Tuesday, June 23, 2009

LRO makes orbit, LCROSS moves on

Engineering and calibration, not science, were highest priorities for controllers of the LCROSS mission at Ames, Tuesday. Nevertheless, an hour was made available to do a little of both, long after the Centaur impactor and its shepherding payload had slipped far north and away from the Moon, already having continued itself away from their brief rendezvous, toward the "left" in this view.

Among the science targets of opportunity for remote sensing was Mendeleev, invisible in the glare of mid-day on the Far Side. The visible imaging camera was tuned to the rich relief of the dimmer terminator in this first "live" television view from the Moon since 1972.

From Lunar Pioneer 3

As one LCROSS RSS feed from Ames summed up the morning's event for history, "The LCROSS spacecraft has successfully completed its swingby of the Moon and is being steered back into normal cruise mode. This swingby has provided a gravity assist into the LCROSS cruise orbit. During this cruise phase, the operations team will evaluate the spacecraft's health and status. The LCROSS spacecraft won't be "up close and personal" with the moon again until the day of impact on October 9, 2009!"

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