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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Moon pit in the Mare Tranquillitatis (Image: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

Moving into a new neighborhood means finding a place to live, and 45 years after Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, our largest satellite is still notoriously short on housing. However, that may be changing as NASA announces that its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has discovered over 200 deep pits on the Moon that could not only provide scientists with deeper insights into the geology of the Moon, but could also be used as sites for future Lunar outposts.  Read More

NASA has released a 680-gigapixel interactive mosaic of the Moon's north polar region that...

NASA, using images taken from its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has released a 680-gigapixel interactive mosaic of the Moon's north polar region. The resolution of the image is one pixel to 6.5 ft (2 m) with the area imaged being the equivalent of slightly more than the land mass of the states of Alaska and Texas combined.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (Image: NASA)

NASA has released images and findings from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which witnessed the impact of NASA's twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) spacecraft as they struck the Moon near the North Pole in a controlled impact on Dec.17, 2012. The unmanned orbiter sent back before and after images of the impact sites and used its Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) instrument to study the plume of dust and gas thrown up by the double impact, producing new insights into the processes going on in the interior of the Moon.  Read More

An image of the Mona Lisa has been beamed by laser to a probe orbiting the Moon

High art recently met high tech as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) received an image of the Mona Lisa via laser. Traveling about 240,000 miles (386,000 km), the image was sent to the probe in lunar orbit using a laser beamed from NASA’s Next Generation Satellite Laser Ranging (NGSLR) station at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland as a demonstration of lasers as a deep-space communications tool.  Read More

Lobate scarps (a type of cliff) on the moon can be viewed in 3D thanks to NASA's LRO (Phot...

It’s time to pull out the old red/cyan 3D glasses for these anaglyphs created with high-resolution stereo images beamed back from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Having revealed the fate of the Apollo lunar flags earlier this year, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) is now enabling the creation of anaglyphs to bring the third dimension to craters, volcanic flows, lava tubes and tectonic features on the lunar surface.  Read More

The Apollo 12 landing site, as photographed by LROC

True story: when I was a little kid and was at an observatory looking at the Moon through a telescope, I loudly proclaimed "I think I can see one of the moon buggies!" Everyone laughed, and I felt stupid. Well, several decades later, I've been somewhat vindicated. Although it's not an earthbound telescope, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) did recently capture images of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites. The Apollo 17 lunar rover is indeed visible, as are the descent stages of the three spacecraft, and foot paths made by the astronauts.  Read More

View northeast across the north rim of Cabeus crater (Image: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State Unive...

A year ago, the twin impacts of NASA’s LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) spacecraft and a companion rocket stage into the lunar surface revealed the presence of water on the moon. Now new data uncovered by LCROSS and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has revealed that the lunar soil within shadowy craters is rich in useful materials, and that the moon is chemically active and has a water cycle.  Read More

Image showing a thrust fault having pushed crustal materials (arrows) up the side of the f...

The moon is shrinking according to a team analyzing new images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The images reveal previously unknown cliffs, called lobate scarbs. These are thrust faults that occur primarily in the lunar highlands that indicate the moon shrank globally in the geologically recent past and might still be shrinking today. Although they were first recognized in photographs taken near the moon's equator by the panoramic cameras flown on the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions, the fourteen previously unknown lobate scarbs revealed by the very high resolution images taken by the LRO camera indicate that the thrust faults are globally distributed and not clustered near the moon’s equator.  Read More

The Lunokhod 1 lunar rover (Photo: Lavochkin Association)

On November 17, 1970, the Soviet spacecraft Luna 17 delivered the lunar rover Lunokhod 1 onto the surface of the moon. For 11 months after, controlled in real-time by a human team in Moscow, it explored seven miles of the lunar surface. Sending back reams of data, it was considered to be one of the biggest successes of the little-known Soviet lunar exploration program. And then, it disappeared. It wasn’t abducted or anything, it just ceased transmitting, as space probes have a tendency to do. This spring, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spied it on the moon’s surface. The really neat thing: it can still reflect laser beams back to Earth as if it were brand new.  Read More

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter hitches a ride with an Atlas V/Centaur rocket from Cap...

How is it that my cell phone still loses connection in the city and my laptop barely gets the Internet in the mountains, yet NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) can keep in touch with Earth from 238,800 miles away, 24 hours a day? Additionally, LRO can transmit 461GB of data per day (the equivalent amount of information found in a huge library), sending this information at a rate of up to 100Mb/s, while my so-called high-speed Internet service struggles to provide about 1-3Mb/s. Obviously, it’s not what you know but who you know!  Read More

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