Jan. 14, 2008
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
NASA’S QUEST TO FIND WATER ON THE MOON MOVES CLOSER TO LAUNCH
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - Cameras and sensors that will look for the
presence of water on the moon have completed validation tests and
been shipped to the manufacturer of NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation
and Sensing Satellite.
The science instruments for the satellite, which is known as LCROSS,
departed NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field Calif., for the
Northrop Grumman Corporation’s facility in Redondo Beach, Calif. to
be integrated with the spacecraft. A video file is available on NASA
Television. LCROSS is scheduled to launch with the Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral,
Fla., by the end of 2008.
“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.”
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 satellite then will fly through the plume on a
collision course with the lunar surface. Both impacts will be visible
to Earth and lunar-orbiting instruments.
Northrop Grumman is designing and building the spacecraft. After
installing the instruments on the satellite, Northrop Grumman will
test the entire spacecraft system to ensure it is flight worthy.
During development of the LCROSS payload, Ames engineers and
scientists 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.”
“This arrangement has proven to work very well,” Andrews added. “The
vendors work with their products and develop a spaceflight knowledge
base, and the LCROSS project gets very mature products for deployment
on this mission.”
For more information about the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing
Satellite mission, visit:
For more information about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit:
For more information about NASA’s exploration plans to the moon and
For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit: