Feeds

NASA unleashes Moon-attack probe

Successful launch of lunar suicide mission

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) were successfully projected Moonwards yesterday atop an Atlas V rocket.

The Atlas V rocket blasts off yesterday. Pic: NASAThe launch from Cape Canaveral was at 21:32 GMT. The LRO separated from the upper stage at 22:16 GMT and will arrive at the Moon on Tuesday.

Its mission is to spend "at least a year in a low polar orbit approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles)" above the lunar surface, deploying seven instruments to "find safe landing sites, locate potential resources, characterize the radiation environment, and test new technology".

The LRO's payload includes the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER), designed to "characterize the lunar radiation environment, allowing scientists to determine potential impacts to astronauts and other life", the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), which will "measure landing site slopes and lunar surface roughness and generate high resolution three-dimensional maps of the moon", and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) - intended to "retrieve high-resolution, black-and-white images of the lunar surface, capturing images of the lunar poles with resolutions down to 1 meter".

Centaur rocket separates from Shepherding Spacecraft. Pic: NASALCROSS, meanwhile, is still attached to the Atlas V's Centaur rocket upper stage, which it will guide in an elongated Earth orbit towards an eventual impact with the Moon's surface. On 9 October, LCROSS will release the Centaur (see graphic) on its suicide "heavy impactor" mission.

NASA predicts a substantial debris plume from the crash, "expected to be visible from Earth - and space-based telescopes 10-to-12 inches and larger". Four minutes after the Centaur's demise, LCROSS will descend through the plume sniffing for possible water and other compounds of interest.

For this purpose, it's packing "two near-infrared spectrometers, a visible light spectrometer, two mid-infrared cameras, two near-infrared cameras, a visible camera and a visible radiometer".

NASA elaborates: "As the ejecta rises above the target crater’s rim and is exposed to sunlight, any water-ice, hydrocarbons or organics will vaporize and break down into their basic components. These components primarily will be monitored by the visible and infrared spectrometers.

"The near-infrared and mid-infrared cameras will determine the total amount and distribution of water in the debris plume. The spacecraft’s visible camera will track the impact location and the behavior of the debris plume while the visible radiometer will measure the flash created by the Centaur impact."

Its work done, LCROSS will also end its days in pieces on the lunar surface.

NASA has an LRO/LCROSS press pack here (pdf). ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.