Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The latest NASA moon shot, LRO, has Hawai'i cred

Each of three of the pieces of equipment aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter—which is swinging around the Moon as this is written—has hibiscus tucked behind its ear.

Well, not really. But they have legitimate Hawai'i credentials.

(Image: A shot taken Dec. 12, 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission, shows orange soil near Shorty Crater. The color, later examination showed, came from orange volcanic glass particles. Credit: NASA.)

Three University of Hawai'i scientists, B. Ray Hawke, Jeffey Gillis-Davis and Paul Lucey, all of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, are contributing scientists for the LRO mission, which is designed to gather data for the 2020 mission to put humans back on the Moon.

Hawke will help process data from the orbiter's camera, which will collect high-definition images of the lunar surface, in part to locate landing sites but also to gather more information about the Moon's surface.

Gillis-Davis is part of a team working with radio frequency to seek evidence of ice on the poles of the moon. They will use a Miniature Radio Frequency instrument, to try to extract new information about what's inside the Moon.

Lucey will help use the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter to create a detailed three-dimensional map of the lunar surface. The laser will help get images of permanently shadowed portions of polar regions. The laser will assist in identifying the abundance—on both the dark and light sides of the Moon—of minerals whose color changes with temperature.

The LRO is kind of like a scout, sent out in advance of the main party, to gather information.

For more information about the LRO, look here.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2009

1 comment:

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