Add-on LRO payload is officially an “Impactor”

Image above: In this artist’s concept, the upper stage and a “sheparding spacecraft” (left) approach the moon before impacting at the south pole (right). Credit: NASA/John Frassanito and Associates.

Since the story broke several days ago the secondary payload that was said to be a lander turns out to be an add-on impactor mission. Granted, an impactor is still considered a lander, just that it “lands” a little bit harder than I was imagining.

The press conference held live on NASA TV announced an overview of the new portion of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter project.

First, the craft will direct the upper stage used to leave Earth orbit to crash into a permanently-shadowed crater at the lunar south pole, creating a plume visible to Earth-based observatories. Next, the satellite will observe the plume and fly through it using several instruments to look for water. At the end of its mission, the satellite will itself become an impactor, creating a second plume visible to lunar-orbiting spacecraft and Earth-based observatories.

This is probably not a permanent link but HERE is the story on NASA’s website.

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