Launched in June 2009, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter traveled around the moon in the past decade. In the beginning, NASA sent it on the moon’s orbit for one year, but the mission extended more years, making 2019 the tenth year it sent images of the moon back to Earth. It is expected that the LRO will continue its assignment for at least seven more years.
A full-scale map of the Moon
Its job was to create an exhaustive map of the surface of the moon. More specifically, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was programmed to study the topography of the surface and the polar regions, to find and outline areas where future missions can land safely, to discover ice accumulations, to outline radiation emissions, and last but not least, to make use of the new technologies for high-resolution mapping.
It even succeeded in mapping the dark side of the moon. As Michelle Thaller from Goddard Space Flight Center asserted, “now we basically know every bump and wiggle and every little rock.”
Forthcoming missions on the Moon
The information gathered by LRO is vital for NASA to organize tasks to the Moon in the foreseeable future. Astronomers are planned to set foot on the moon in 2024. An essential and extraordinary aspect of the future missions is that there women will also be part of the teams to land on the moon.
Due to the more advanced knowledge of lunar topography than they had in the past, space engineers will now choose the most advantageous landing sites. Fifty years ago, during the Apollo 11 mission, little was know about the surface of the celestial body, and this made the lunar landing delicate and unsafe.
NASA aims to land the astronauts in the south pole of the moon as there was evidence that water might be found in that region. The frozen water could help the astronauts in many ways; it can be used as fuel or even to drink it.
Lunar missions are critical as the astronomers can make more discoveries in regards to the Solar System and could help them plan future missions on Mars.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.