The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter blasted off from Florida last week. Follow this link for the story.
The orbiter will send back all kinds of data, from day-night temperature maps to color imaging and UV reflection, NASA said. There is particular emphasis on areas of the moon that may have continuous access to sunlight and where water may exist.
Because building a lunar outpost implies extended periods on the moon’s surface, NASA is hoping the orbiter can help it identify safe landing sites and moon resources, and how the lunar radiation environment would affect humans.
The orbiter’s trip to the moon will take about four days. It will then spend at least a year in a low polar orbit around the moon, eventually orbiting about 50 kilometers (31 miles) above its surface, NASA said.