Mini-RF Overview

  • Mini-RF Patch


    The Mini-RF project launched two radar instruments to the moon to map the lunar poles, search for water ice, and to demonstrate future NASA communication technologies. The first instrument, launched on the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO’s) Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, mapped both polar regions. The second instrument, currently flying on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), has been mapping the different geologic units of the lunar surface.

Featured Images

Mini-RF completes first month of polar mapping

Mini-RF has just completed its first month of polar mapping.

These mosaics cover from 70° to the pole for both the north and south polar regions.

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A Cool Look at a Lunar Crater

crater Rozhdestvensky

NASA Radar returns first high-resolution view of an unusual crater near Moon’s north pole

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NASA Radar Finds Ice Deposits at Moon's North Pole

Fresh craters and anomalous craters on the north pole of the Moon.

Using data from a NASA radar that flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have detected ice deposits near the moon's north pole.

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News and Events

  • Artist's concept of LRO in orbit

    Walls of Lunar Crater May Hold Patchy Ice, LRO Radar Finds

    Scientists using the Mini-RF radar on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have estimated the maximum amount of ice likely to be found inside a permanently shadowed lunar crater located near the moon's South Pole. As much as five to ten percent of material, by weight, could be patchy ice, according to the team of researchers led by Bradley Thomson at Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing.

  • Mini-RF Operations on Hold

    Science operations for the Mini-RF radar on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are on hold now that the instrument is not transmitting sufficient energy to image the moon’s surface.  The mission team continues to gather and analyze data in an attempt to determine the cause of the fault and whether it is recoverable.

  • Mini-RF Podcast 2

    Your Time to Explore (part 2)

    Check out this second podcast to learn more about how Mini-RF is searching for ice on the Moon.

Instrument Status

    The Mini-RF instrument is operating in a bistatic mode, where the radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory transmits a signal that bounces off the Moon and is received by Mini-RF. The resulting data yield the first ever non-beta-zero bistatic radar images of the Moon.

Quick Facts

    Mini-RF on LRO

    • Launch: June 18th at 5:32 p.m. EDT
    • Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
    • Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
    • Lunar Orbit: 50 km, polar
    • Primary Mission Duration: 1 year
    • Resolution: 150 meters & 30 meters

    Mini-SAR on Chandrayaan-1

    • Launch: October 22, 2008 00:52:02 UTC
    • Launch Vehicle: Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, India
    • Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, India
    • Lunar Orbit: 100 km and 200 km, polar
    • Resolution: 150 meters

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