LCROSS Project Site

Artist concept of LCROSS

Learn more about LCROSS' technology and methods for water detection at the LCROSS Project site.

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LRO Mission Site

Artist concept of LRO

Learn more about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from the mission Web site maintained by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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The Search For Lunar Water

    neutron emission from the lunar surface
    Image Above: The dark blue and purple areas at the moons poles indicate neutron emissions that are consistent with hydrogen-rich deposits covered by desiccated regolith. These hydrogen signatures are possible indications of water in the form of ice or hydrated minerals. Feldman et al., Science, 281, 1496, 1998. Click image to enlarge Credit: NASA

    Just like on Earth, water will be a crucial resource on the moon. Transporting water and other goods from Earth to the moon’s surface is expensive. Finding natural resources, such as water ice, on the moon could help expedite lunar exploration. The LCROSS mission will search for water, using information learned from the Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions.

    By going to the moon for extended periods of time, a new generation of explorers will learn how to work safely in a harsh environment. A lunar outpost is a stepping stone to future exploration of other bodies in our solar system. The moon also offers many clues about when the planets were formed.

Mission Science

  • Artist concept of LCROSS mission

    LCROSS Mission Objectives

    What is on the floor of the permanently shadowed craters at the moon's poles? What do the the hydrogen signatures in these craters mean? LCROSS is looking to answer these questions.

  • illustration of permanently shadowed lunar crater

    Water on the Moon?

    Water could only exist in areas of permanent shadow and those areas exist at the lunar poles.

  • impact thumbnail

    LCROSS Water Detection

    The resulting Centaur impact crater will be approximately 28m (92 feet) in diameter by 5m (16 feet) deep

  • LCROSS Targeting Graphic

    LCROSS Targeting

    Five days after launch, flight engineers execute a maneuver that takes the LCROSS spacecraft and the Centaur on a large looping orbit around the Earth/moon system.

Past Missions Searching for Lunar Water

  • Artist Concept: Clementine

    Clementine Mission

    Clementine (Deep Space Program Science Experiment, DSPSE) gave scientists their first total look at the the Moon's landscape. The spacecraft also found signs of a large deposit of ice in a permanently shadowed crater on the Moon's south pole.

  • Artist Concept: Lunar Prospector

    Lunar Prospector Mission

    In March 1998, mission scientists announced tentative findings of the presence of water ice in shadowed craters near the Moon's south and north poles, based on reasonable scientific assumptions from the levels of hydrogen detected, from which water ice is inferred. They estimated that up to six billion metric tons of water ice may be buried in these craters under about 18 inches of soil.