2009 June 22
Atlas 5 Rocket Launches to the Moon
This rocket is headed for the Moon.
Pictured above, a huge
Altas V rocket
roared off the
launch pad last week to start NASA's
first missions to Earth's
Moon in 10 years.
The rocket is carrying two robotic spacecraft.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
is scheduled to orbit and better map the Moon, search for buried and hidden ice, and return many high resolution images.
Some images will be below one-meter in resolution and include images of historic
Apollo landing sites.
Exploratory data and images should allow a more informed choice of possible future astronaut landing sites.
The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) is scheduled to
monitor the controlled
impact of the rocket's
upper stage into a permanently shadowed crater near the
Moon's south pole.
This impact, which should occur in about three months, might be visible on Earth through small telescopes.