Cape Canaveral (Florida), June 19 (Reuters): An unmanned Atlas rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station yesterday carrying a pair of probes to map the moon and hunt for water.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is Nasas opening salvo in a new programme aimed at returning astronauts to the moon by 2020. The orbiter is designed to map the moons surface in detail, with particular attention to the relatively unexplored polar regions.
Our knowledge of the whole moon is actually quite poor, said Craig Tooley, LRO project manager. We have much better maps of Mars than we do of our own moon.
The rocket carrying the orbiter and a small second spacecraftlifted off at 2132 GMT. The journey to the moon will take four days.