, Volume 129, Issue 4, pp 391-419
Date: 04 May 2007

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Overview: The Instrument Suite and Mission

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Abstract

NASA’s Lunar Precursor Robotic Program (LPRP), formulated in response to the President’s Vision for Space Exploration, will execute a series of robotic missions that will pave the way for eventual permanent human presence on the Moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is first in this series of LPRP missions, and plans to launch in October of 2008 for at least one year of operation. LRO will employ six individual instruments to produce accurate maps and high-resolution images of future landing sites, to assess potential lunar resources, and to characterize the radiation environment. LRO will also test the feasibility of one advanced technology demonstration package. The LRO payload includes: Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) which will determine the global topography of the lunar surface at high resolution, measure landing site slopes, surface roughness, and search for possible polar surface ice in shadowed regions, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) which will acquire targeted narrow angle images of the lunar surface capable of resolving meter-scale features to support landing site selection, as well as wide-angle images to characterize polar illumination conditions and to identify potential resources, Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND) which will map the flux of neutrons from the lunar surface to search for evidence of water ice, and will provide space radiation environment measurements that may be useful for future human exploration, Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment (DLRE) which will chart the temperature of the entire lunar surface at approximately 300 meter horizontal resolution to identify cold-traps and potential ice deposits, Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) which will map the entire lunar surface in the far ultraviolet. LAMP will search for surface ice and frost in the polar regions and provide images of permanently shadowed regions illuminated only by starlight. Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER), which will investigate the effect of galactic cosmic rays on tissue-equivalent plastics as a constraint on models of biological response to background space radiation. The technology demonstration is an advanced radar (mini-RF) that will demonstrate X- and S-band radar imaging and interferometry using light weight synthetic aperture radar. This paper will give an introduction to each of these instruments and an overview of their objectives.