NASA eClips: The Lunar Reconnissance Orbiter Mission
Get a new perspective on moon resources with NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. See how NASA plans to gather data about the unique lunar poles. Scientists will use the light reflected off the surface to identify different minerals on the moon.
The primary objective of LRO is to scout for safe and compelling landing sites, locate potential resources (with special attention to the possibility of water ice) and characterize the effects of prolonged exposure to the lunar radiation environment. In addition to its exploration mission, LRO will also return rich scientific data that will help us to better understand the moon’s topography and composition. On October 9, 2009, NASA's LCROSS experiment intentionally crashed its companion Centaur upper stage into the Cabeus crater near the lunar south pole. The idea was to kick up debris from the bottom of the crater so its composition could be analyzed. The Centaur hit at over 5,600 miles per hour, sending up a plume of material over 12 miles high. Seeing mostly pure water ice grains in the plume means water ice was somehow delivered to these polar shadowed regions, or that chemical processes are causing ice to accumulate in large quantities. Furthermore, the diversity and abundance of certain materials called volatiles in the plume, suggest a variety of sources, like comets and asteroids, and an active water cycle within the lunar shadows.
Related Mathematics Problems
These problems provide a mathematical introduction to some of the issues related to the moon.
Problem 262: LRO Explores Lunar Surface Cratering Students count the number of craters in various size ranges from a high-resolution image of the lunar surface. [Grade: 6-8 | Topics: scale, proportion, ratio, area, density] [Download PDF]
Problem 261: LRO - Searching for Lunar Boulders Students use a recent image of the Apollo-11 landing area to search for large lunar boulders. [Grade: 6-8 | Topics: scale, ratio, proportion] [Download PDF]