NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is making its way to the moon following a flawless liftoff on June 18 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas V rocket.
The mission will perform high-resolution mapping of the moon with seven sensors in preparation for future robotic and human exploration. MIT has ties to three of the instruments on the craft.
Professor Maria Zuber, head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, is co-leader of investigations to perform high-resolution topographic mapping and the first operational optical tracking of a planetary spacecraft. Members of the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research are also participating in an experiment to characterize the lunar radiation environment.