Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter 001.jpg
Illustration of LRO
Mission typeLunar orbiter
Mission duration
  • Primary mission: 1 year[1]
  • Science mission: 2 years[1]
  • Extension 1: 2 years[1]
  • Extension 2: 2 years[2]
  • Elapsed: 9 years, 6 months and 28 days
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerNASA / GSFC
Launch mass1,916 kg (4,224 lb)[3]
Dry mass1,018 kg (2,244 lb)[3]
Payload mass92.6 kg (204 lb)[3]
DimensionsLaunch: 390 × 270 × 260 cm (152 × 108 × 103 in)[3]
Power1850 W[4]
Start of mission
Launch dateJune 18, 2009, 21:32:00 (2009-06-18UTC21:32Z) UTC
RocketAtlas V 401
Launch siteCape Canaveral SLC-41
ContractorUnited Launch Alliance
Entered serviceSeptember 15, 2009
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Semi-major axis1,798 km (1,117 mi)
Periselene20 km (12 mi)
Aposelene165 km (103 mi)
EpochMay 4, 2015[5]
Moon orbiter
Orbital insertionJune 23, 2009
LRO mission logo (transparent background) 01.png

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a NASA robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon in an eccentric polar mapping orbit.[6][7] Data collected by LRO has been described as essential for planning NASA's future human and robotic missions to the Moon.[8] Its detailed mapping program is identifying safe landing sites, locating potential resources on the Moon, characterizing the radiation environment, and demonstrating new technologies.[9][10]

Launched on June 18, 2009,[11] in conjunction with the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), as the vanguard of NASA's Lunar Precursor Robotic Program,[12] LRO was the first United States mission to the Moon in over ten years.[13]LRO and LCROSS were launched as part of the United States's Vision for Space Exploration program.

The probe has made a 3-D map of the Moon's surface at 100-meter resolution and 98.2% coverage (excluding polar areas in deep shadow),[14] including 0.5-meter resolution images of Apollo landing sites.[15][16] 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).[17]

The total cost of the mission is reported as US$583 million, of which $504 million pertains to the main LRO probe and $79 million to the LCROSS satellite.[18]


Atlas V carrying LRO and LCROSS

Developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, LRO is a large (1,916 kg/4,224 lb[18]) and sophisticated spacecraft. Its mission duration was planned for one year,[19] but has since been extended numerous times after review by NASA.

After completing a preliminary design review in February 2006 and a critical design review in November 2006,[20] the LRO was shipped from Goddard to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on February 11, 2009.[21] Launch was planned for October 2008, but this slid to April as the spacecraft underwent testing in a thermal vacuum chamber.[22] Launch was rescheduled for June 17, 2009, because of the delay in a priority military launch,[23] and happened one day later, on June 18. The one-day delay was to allow the Space Shuttle Endeavour a chance to lift off for mission STS-127 following a hydrogen fuel leak that canceled an earlier planned launch.[24]

Areas of investigation include selenodetic global topography; the lunar polar regions, including possible water ice deposits and the lighting environment; characterization of deep space radiation in lunar orbit; and high-resolution mapping, at a maximum resolution of 50 cm/pixel (20 in/pixel), to assist in the selection and characterization of future landing sites.[25][26]

In addition, LRO has provided images and precise locations of landers and equipment from previous American and Russian lunar missions, including the Apollo sites.[15]

Other Languages
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
українська: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter