Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program
The Lunar Precursor Robotic
Program (LPRP) supports America's return to the moon by
executing lunar robotic missions to conduct research and prepare
for future human exploration.
LPRP missions will gather data important for reducing the risks of
returning humans to the moon by 2020, such as examining the lunar
radiation environment, which has implications for astronaut
safety. Surface imaging and mapping will assist landing site
selection by identifying terrain hazards (slope, roughness,
obstacles) as well as areas of scientific and operational
interest. Temperature and lighting conditions over an annual
cycle, along with a good characterization of dust, environmental
conditions, and radiation are needed for mission and hardware
design. Resource identification and mapping will inform decisions
about possible future use of in-situ resources.
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
LPRP's first mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
(LRO), launched on June 18, 2009. LRO will provide critical
information about the moon to enable selection of safe landing
sites with compelling exploration and scientific features. Using a
robust suite of instruments to measure the topography of the
moon's surface, LRO will take high-resolution images of sites of
interest, globally assess thermal and radiation environments, and
assay potential resources.
Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite
Launching with LRO is the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite
low-cost secondary payload will investigate the presence of lunar
volatiles in a permanently-shadowed region of the lunar surface.
The Lunar Architecture Team (LAT) study is examining lunar
exploration requirements needed to support a human lunar sortie by