5 years ago today NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) were launched for the Moon.
LRO remains in lunar orbit and is the most data prolific planetary mission in NASA's history having returned over 500 TB of data and still climbing.
LRO has rewritten the books on the Moon and LRO managers have applied to NASA for another mission extension of 2 years. We will know in a few weeks if their request is granted. I hope it is as LRO is healthy and can last for another 8-10 years according to Deputy Project Scientist Dr. Noah Petro.
I was very fortunate to see LRO and LCROSS as they were being built and my pic taken with them is among my most treasured photos. I wrote the feature story on their missions for Sky & Telescope Magazine which appeared in the June 2009 issue.
Remember the Moon Art contest? Well, my selection and prediction as to the winner cam true - the peak of Tycho Crater. To me this is the best Moon pic ever taken and the close-ups and resulting videos were simply breathtaking.
Happy 5th! MT @LRO_NASA The votes are in, and the #MoonArt winner is… http://go.nasa.gov/1soxvNc Hint: pic.twitter.com/rPW02VHgFf