LRO spacecraft enters orbit around the Moon

On the 26th June 2009, Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) successfully entered orbit around the Moon, following a five-day journey. A ten minute reverse firing of LRO's main thrusters allowed the spacecraft to be pulled by the Moon's gravity into a 200 kilometre (125 mile) circular polar orbit. Over the next few days, LRO's seven instruments will be turned on and tested as it continues firing manoeuvres that will lower its orbit to just 50 kms (31 miles) above the lunar surface.

Artist's impression of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Artist's impression of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter - Credit: NASA

The primary mission of LRO is to conduct investigations in preparation for future exploration of the Moon. More specifically, LRO will spend 12 months looking for suitable landing sites and try to locate potential resources, such as water ice. In doing so, it will return thousands of detailed images and rich scientific data, that will help us to better understand the Moon's topography (i.e. how it's surface changes) and composition. It has been said that LRO is leading NASA's way back to the Moon.

If you would like to find out more about the LRO mission, then click HERE