LRO, carrying the LROC and LCROSS instruments was successfully launched at 5:32 U.S. Eastern. Congratulations!
The LRO/LCROSS Atlas V 401 will be rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility towards the launch pad starting at 10 am this morning (June 17) in preparation for a launch attempt Thursday June 18 at 5:12 pm.
The LRO launch window is currently in flux due to the slip of the Space Shuttle Endeavor launch. LRO is currently set for launch on the 18th, with a possible launch window of the 18th to 20th.
Future rocket scientists needed - some assembly required.
Last year calibration of LROC Narrow Angle Cameras (NAC) took place at the Malin Space Science Systems (San Diego).
This is a "souvenir picture" of the first NAC taken last year in a cleanroom at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. In this picture the large primary mirror of the NAC optics is well visible at the end of the NAC tube. The LROC Science Team member on the left gives a good sense of just how large the LROC NACs are. Remember, there will be two NACs side by side on the LRO spacecraft!
Here is one of the LROC NAC cameras in the cleanroom at Malin Space Science Systems in 2008. We're looking down the baffle tube. The white silver sickle-like form is the primary mirror of the optics. The small golden circle is the backside of the secondary mirror which reflects incoming light back out. Also visible on the right is a spectroradiometer used for calibrations.
One of the LROC Narrow Angle Cameras (NAC), photographed in a cleanroom at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego last year. The long silver tube is the baffle for straylight rejection. It is made of carbon fiber. The golden part of the NAC is the optics, a Ritchey-Chretien telescope with an aperture of about 7.7 inches (19.5 cm), which focuses the light onto a CCD line-scanner in the back (not visible). For scale, the NAC has a diameter of about 10 inches (26 cm) and a length of 27.5 inches (70 cm).
Here is a picture from last year showing the LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC) in a cleanroom at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. The WAC (foreground) looks towards the monochromator (grey box) which emits light of a certain wavelength (color). By scanning through all relevant wavelengths between 290 nm (ultraviolet) and 720 nm (very deep red) the color response of each of the 7 WAC (2 UV + 5 visible) filters is determined. In this particular image a spectroradiometer is placed in front of the aperture of the monochromator.
Here is a picture of the LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC) from last year, prior to its installation on the LRO spacecraft. The silver vertical tube in the center with the small baffle above it is the ultraviolet part of the optical system. The large V-shaped baffle directly behind it is the visible part of the optical system. Both optics lead to the CCD sensor, which is located inside the electronics box on the bottom of WAC (where data and power cables are attached). The CCD is cooled by the comparatively giant radiator that is visible in the back of the image. For scale, the width of the electronics box is about 4 inches (10 centimeters).