NASAs moon water-finding mission one step closer to launch

January 15th, 2008 - 3:19 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Jan 15 (ANI): NASAs mission to find water on the moon is getting closer to reality, with the completion of validation tests and shipping of cameras and sensors to the lunar spacecraft stationed at the Northrop Grumman Corporation’s facility in Redondo Beach, California.

The science instruments for the satellite, which is known as LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) would be integrated with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, aboard an Atlas V rocket, which is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by the end of 2008.

In 2009, LCROSS will separate into two parts and create a pair of impacts on the permanently dark floor of one of the moon’s polar craters. The spent Centaur upper stage of the Atlas V rocket will hit the moon, causing an explosion of material from the crater’s surface.

The instruments aboard the satellite will analyze the plume for the presence of water ice or water vapor, hydrocarbons and hydrated materials.

“The goal of the mission is to confirm the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the moon’s south pole,” said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS principal investigator at Ames. “The identification of water is very important to the future of human activities on the moon,” he added.

During development of the LCROSS payload, engineers and scientists at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field California, built new spaceflight hardware and used new testing procedures to take advantage of lower cost, commercially available instruments.

The team subjected the commercial instruments and NASA-developed components to conditions simulating the harsh environment of spaceflight. Working closely with the commercial instrument manufacturers, all safety and operational concerns were addressed quickly and efficiently.

“This payload delivery represents a new way of doing business for the center and the agency in general,” said Daniel Andrews, LCROSS project manager at Ames.

“LCROSS primarily is using commercial-off-the-shelf instruments on this mission to meet the mission’s accelerated development schedule and cost restraints,” he added. (ANI)

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