NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched June 18 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, has beamed back its first pictures of the moon as engineers continue instrument checkout and calibration prior to the start of its primary mission.
The LRO spacecraft braked into a highly elliptical orbit around the moon June 23. A series of rocket firings have now placed the satellite in its so-called commissioning orbit, one with a low point of about 19 miles and a high point of 124 miles. Later this summer, it will be maneuvered into a circular 31-mile-high orbit around the moon's poles.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, was turned on June 30. The first test images showed cratered terrain in the lunar highlands south of the Sea of Clouds. Each picture represents a square measuring 0.87 miles wide.… Read more