By Patricia Daukantas
Thanks to the "magic" of NASA's online video service, I just watched the successful launch of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
As I mentioned in my feature article on space-based lidar in the current (June) issue of OPN, LRO is carrying an instrument called the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), which will produce a high-resolution topographic model of the entire Moon to guide future robotic and human explorers.
I got a chance to see the spacecraft being assembled when I toured NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, Md., U.S.A.) last summer in preparation for my OPN article on the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Let’s hope that LOLA and LRO’s other instruments -- as well as LRO’s “sister” satellite, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) -- have a successful run in lunar orbit.
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