Monday, September 21, 2009

LRO LOLA shows extraordinary promise

First Light from the Lunar Orbiting Laser Altimeter (LOLA), flying on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), even before 'first light' had been gathering an incredible amount of data from the low point of its commissioning orbit over the lunar South Pole. This served the dual purpose, along with other experiments aboard LRO, of helping flight managers at Aims Research Center make their decision in favor of Cabeus A, northwest of the lunar South Pole, as what is likely to be the lower latitude final impact site of the LCROSS impactor. The Space Visualization Studio at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has already made incredible 3-D mpg2 and mpg4 movies available for download, well worth their size, along with a variety of stills. Now, only a week after the final maneuver that put LRO into its initial mapping orbit, the LRO is more than delivering on its promise of being the definitive lunar science mission we've been waiting for since first proposed in 2004.

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