Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fly by of Mercury - LRO undergoing critical tests - KAGUYA (SELENE)

Is looking good.

See more below.

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
KAGUYA (SELENE) Observations with Laser Altimeter (LALT)
and Lunar Radar Sounder (LRS) Sounder Mode

January 10, 2008 (JST)
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) carried out observations
using two onboard sensors of the lunar explorer KAGUYA -- the Laser
Altimeter (LALT) and sounder mode (*) of the Lunar Radar Sounder (LRS).

Through analysis of the LALT data taken from November 26 (Japan
Standard Time, all the following dates and times are JST), 2007, we
confirmed that the lunar topography can be deduced as planned. The
LALT is expected to obtain a global and precise topographic data set
of the Moon, including the polar regions with a latitude higher than
75 degrees that have never been explored by previous satellites. This
data set, in combination with the high-spatial-resolution stereoscopic
observation data to be taken with the Terrain Camera (TC), will
compose the first complete, precise, and high-spatial-resolution
topographic map of the Moon.

The LRS sounder mode was tested on November 20 and 21, 2007, over the
eastern Mare Imbrium, and the performance of this mode was verified.
The data obtained in this experiment visualized largely horizontal
subsurface stratification, which probably consists of alternating
beds of lava, volcanic ashe and ejecta blankets. The existence of such
a strata has been expected for decades based chiefly on surface geology.
By means of global scanning, the LRS will provide us with a massive
amount of information on the subsurface geology of the Moon down to a
few kilometers from the surface. Faults and folds, identified from the
discontinuity or disturbance of subsurface stratification, are
important clues to understand not only regional tectonics but also the
evolution of the Moon, including global thermal history.

* The LRS has two observation modes - a sounder mode for subsurface
sounding and a natural radio observation mode for observations of
natural plasma waves and natural radio waves.

Laser Altimeter (LALT)

Figure 1
The topography of the Mare Orientale (19.4S, 92.8W) deduced from LALT

Lunar Radar Sounder (LRS) - Sounder Mode

Figure 2
Simulated radar echoes.

Figure 3
Observed radar echoes taken with the LRS near the Poisson crater
(30.4S, 10.6E) on November 20, 2007, in a 20 second period from
18:22:50 to 18:23:10.

Figure 4
The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image and strata identification of
the northeastern part of the Mare Imbrium near the Kirch crater (39.2N,
5.6W, 11 km dia.) retrieved from the LRS sounder mode observation data
on November 21, 2007, from 22:13 to 22:15.

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Publisher : Public Affairs Department
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Marunouchi Kitaguchi Building,
1-6-5, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8260


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In today's space news from SpaceRef:

-- MESSENGER Team Receives First Optical Navigation Images of Mercury
-- MESSENGER Set for Historic Mercury Flyby

"On January 9, 2008, the MESSENGER spacecraft snapped one of its first images of
Mercury at a
distance of about 2.7 million kilometers (1.7 million miles) from the planet.
The image was
acquired with the Narrow Angle Camera, one half of MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System
(MDIS) instrument."


Jan. 10, 2008

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington

Paulette Campbell
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

RELEASE: 08-003


LAUREL, Md. - On Monday, Jan. 14, a pioneering NASA spacecraft will be
the first to visit Mercury in almost 33 years when it soars over the
planet to explore and snap close-up images of never-before-seen
terrain. These findings could open new theories and answer old
questions in the study of the solar system.

The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging
spacecraft, called MESSENGER, is the first mission sent to orbit the
planet closest to our sun. Before that orbit begins in 2011, the
probe will make three flights past the small planet, skimming as
close as 124 miles above Mercury's cratered, rocky surface.
MESSENGER's cameras and other sophisticated, high-technology
instruments will collect more than 1,200 images and make other
observations during this approach, encounter and departure. It will
make the first up-close measurements since Mariner 10 spacecraft's
third and final flyby on March 16, 1975. When Mariner 10 flew by
Mercury in the mid-1970s, it surveyed only one hemisphere.

"This is raw scientific exploration and the suspense is building by
the day," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for NASA's Science
Mission Directorate, Washington. "What will MESSENGER see? Monday
will tell the tale."

This encounter will provide a critical gravity assist needed to keep
the spacecraft on track for its March 2011 orbit insertion, beginning
an unprecedented yearlong study of Mercury. The flyby also will
gather essential data for mission planning.

"During this flyby we will begin to image the hemisphere that has
never been seen by a spacecraft and Mercury at resolutions better
than those acquired by Mariner 10," said Sean C. Solomon, MESSENGER
principal investigator, Carnegie Institution of Washington. "Images
will be in a number of different color filters so that we can start
to get an idea of the composition of the surface."

One site of great interest is the Caloris basin, an impact crater
about 800 miles in diameter, which is one of the largest impact
basins in the solar system.

"Caloris is huge, about a quarter of the diameter of Mercury, with
rings of mountains within it that are up to two miles high," said
Louise Prockter, the instrument scientist for the Mercury Dual
Imaging System at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory in Laurel. "Mariner 10 saw a little less than half of the
basin. During this first flyby, we will image the other side."

MESSENGER's instruments will provide the first spacecraft measurements
of the mineralogical and chemical composition of Mercury's surface.
It also will study the global magnetic field and improve our
knowledge of the gravity field from the Mariner 10 flyby. The
long-wavelength components of the gravity field provide key
information about the planet's internal structure, particularly the
size of Mercury's core.

The flyby will provide an opportunity to examine Mercury's environment
in unique ways, not possible once the spacecraft begins orbiting the
planet. The flyby also will map Mercury's tenuous atmosphere with
ultraviolet observations and document the energetic particle and
plasma of Mercury's magnetosphere. In addition, the flyby trajectory
will enable unique particle and plasma measurements of the magnetic
tail that sweeps behind Mercury.

Launched Aug. 3, 2004, MESSENGER is slightly more than halfway through
its 4.9-billion mile journey. It already has flown past Earth once
and Venus twice. The spacecraft will use the pull of Mercury's
gravity during this month's pass and others in October 2008 and
September 2009 to guide it progressively closer to the planet's
orbit. Insertion will be accomplished with a fourth Mercury encounter
in 2011.

The MESSENGER project is the seventh in NASA's Discovery Program of
low-cost, scientifically focused space missions. The Applied Physics
Laboratory designed, built and operates the spacecraft and manages
the mission for NASA.

For more information about MESSENGER, visit:



Jan. 10, 2008

Beth Dickey/Stephanie Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington

Nancy Neal Jones
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

RELEASE: 08-004


GREENBELT, Md. - NASA's next mission to Earth's closest astronomical
body is in the midst of integration and testing at NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The Lunar Reconnaissance
Orbiter, known as LRO, will spend at least a year mapping the surface
of the moon. Data from the orbiter will help NASA select safe landing
sites for astronauts, identify lunar resources and study how the
moon's environment will affect humans.

Engineers at Goddard are building the orbiter and rigorously testing
spacecraft components to ready them for the harsh environment of
space. After a component or entire subsystem is qualified, it is
integrated into the LRO spacecraft. The core suite of avionics for
the orbiter is assembled and undergoing system tests.

"This is a major milestone for the mission," said Craig Tooley, LRO
project manager at Goddard. "Our team has been working nearly around
the clock to get us to this point. Reaching this milestone keeps us
on the path to sending LRO to the moon later this year."

Various components of the avionics and mechanical subsystem are in the
process of going through their qualification program. Six instruments
and one technology demonstration aboard the spacecraft will provide
important data to enable a safe and productive human return to the
moon. The six instruments are scheduled to arrive at Goddard in the
coming months for integration.

The spacecraft will ship to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., in
August in preparation for launch. The orbiter and the Lunar Crater
Observation and Sensing Satellite will launch aboard an Atlas V
rocket in late 2008. The trip to the moon will take approximately
four days. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter initially will enter an
elliptical orbit, also called the commissioning orbit. Once moved
into its final orbit, a circular polar orbit approximately 31 miles
above the moon, the spacecraft's instruments will map the lunar

For more information about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit:

For more information about NASA's exploration program to the moon and
beyond, visit:





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