The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a NASA robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon in an eccentric polar mapping orbit. Data collected by LRO has been described as essential for planning NASA’s future human and robotic missions to the Moon. Its detailed mapping program is identifying safe landing sites, locating potential resources on the Moon, characterizing the radiation environment, and demonstrating new technologies.

The probe has made a 3-D map of the Moon’s surface and has provided high resolution images of Apollo landing sites. The first images from LRO were published on July 2, 2009, showing a region in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds).

Launched on June 18, 2009, in conjunction with the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), as the vanguard of NASA’s Lunar Precursor Robotic Program, LRO was the first United States mission to the Moon in over ten years. LRO and LCROSS were launched as part of the United States’s Vision for Space Exploration program.

Artist’s illustration of the LRO

earth Lunar_Reconnaissance_Orbiter_001

earth LRO_Tycho_Central_Peak

Tycho Central Peak

Far side of the Moon

eart Moon_Farside_LRO

Near side of the Moon

earth LRO_WAC_Nearside_Mosaic

 

North Pole

 

earth LRO_WAC_North_Pole_Mosaic_(PIA14024)

 

South Pole

 

earth LRO_WAC_South_Pole_Mosaic

 

Earthrise over Compton Crater

 

Earthrise_over_Compton_crater_-LRO_full_res

 

Apollo 11 landing site

 

Apollo11-LRO-March2012

 

Apollo 17 landing site

 

Apollo_17_LM_Challenger_LRO

 

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