Thursday, April 3, 2008

NBC focus: One of the Chosen "LRO 24"

Under the misleading headline, "Bay Area Scientist Planning Trip to the Moon," San Francisco-Oakland NBC affiliate Channel 11 has put together an interesting, if simplistic summary of the LRO, and Ross Beyer, among the 24 scientists that have become known as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or "LRO 24."

Their job will be preliminary and supplementary study of the LRO mission, its plans, targets, and initial data analysis, before and after LCROSS/LRO is launched with a mission to settle definitively the question of whether hydrogen isotope signatures, first detected by the Lunar Prospector in 1999, orbiting over the Moon's polar regions are hidden reserves of frozen water.

It's an illustration of good public relations and mediocre journalism typical of local news programs throughout the nation. The heart of the story is as follows:

"Beyer is a scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View and was recently named to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team.

"Their spacecraft, launching later this year, will spend the next couple of years orbiting the moon, and taking measurements and high-resolution photographs much like those taken of Mars for the Rover missions.

"One of Beyer's responsibilities will be to find a good spot to land. His first picks will be for robots, and, he hopes, later for humans."

Once humans go there, what kinds of things can humans do to help us learn more? And where can we send robotics landers to learn more things? And we can't do that until we get a good recon of the planet with our modern instruments," Beyer said."

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