Related News

Home » World

Probes to map moon and look for water

A UNITED States unmanned Atlas rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday carrying a pair of probes to map the moon and hunt for water.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is NASA's opening salvo in a new program aimed at returning astronauts to the moon by 2020. The orbiter is designed to map the moon's surface in unprecedented detail, with particular attention to the polar regions.

"Our knowledge of the whole moon is actually quite poor," said Craig Tooley, LRO project manager. "We have much better maps of Mars than we do of our own moon."

The rocket carrying the orbiter and a small second spacecraft known as LCROSS lifted off at 5:32pm local time. The journey will take four days.

LRO carries seven science instruments, including several cameras, infrared detectors and a laser altimeter to measure topography. The satellite also carries a telescope outfitted with synthetic human skin to assess how the radiation environment may affect human health.

Scientists have targeted 50 potential landing sites that will be imaged with LRO's highest-quality cameras, which can see objects as small as about 50 centimeters in diameter. As a curiosity, LRO is expected to look for equipment left behind during the Apollo missions of 1969-72.

The spacecraft also will scout for minerals, make detailed temperature maps and chart the moon's topography.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend