Successful Launch for New Lunar Orbiters
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite are bound for the moon after a flawless liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard an Atlas V rocket. Powered by two liquid-fueled engines and a pair of solid-fueled boosters, the Atlas V roared off the launch pad at Launch Complex 41 to begin NASA's return to the moon missions.
The LRO is equipped with seven scientific instruments that can create detailed maps of the moon's surface as well as measure temperature and radiation.
Two high-resolution cameras onboard can zero in on objects the size of a car. A third camera with a wide-angle lens will provide lower-resolution images in areas the size of a football field.
Scientists hope to photograph equipment left from the Apollo missions in the 1960s and early 1970s.
"We'll finally have the information about the moon that we already have about Mars," said Todd May, a NASA program manager.