NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Intelligent Systems Division Banner

LCROSS Mission and Science Operations at Ames

The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission will advance the Vision for Space Exploration by identifying the presence of water ice at the Moon's South Pole. LCROSS will use the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launch vehicle's spent Earth Departure Upper Stage as a 2000-kg kinetic impactor that will crash into a permanently shadowed lunar crater and create a nearly 1,000-metric-ton plume of lunar ejecta. The closely following Shepherding Spacecraft will fly through the plume, and send back high-resolution spatial and temporal measurements of the impact, plume, and fresh crater. Earth-based observations will be conducted to support and complement these measurements. Fifteen minutes later, the Shepherding Spacecraft will impact the Moon several kilometers from the first impact. This second impact will be also observed from Earth to provide important information about possible nonuniformity of hydrogen trapped in the shadowed craters.

Intelligent Systems Division personnel are managing the LCROSS Mission Operations team, which consists of members from Ames and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), along with support from Northrop Grumman. The Mission Operations Center (MOC) at Ames will communicate with the spacecraft through the Deep Space Mission Systems (DSMS) element managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The GSFC ground terminal will act as a backup Mission Operations Center, and will also provide Flight Dynamics support, coordination with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Operations Center, and technical support for Goddard-supplied mission operation software. Ames will be building on relevant mission operations experience with the Lunar Prospector Mission Operations Center as well as other missions. Staff support will come from both Ames and Goddard. Data reduction, science analysis, and science telemetry archiving will be performed by the Science Operations Center (SOC) at Ames.

In addition to MOC management, the Intelligent Systems Division is providing the LCROSS Ground Data System (GDS), an integrated set of ground software, hardware, facilities, and networks that support LCROSS development and mission operations. The Ground Data System includes systems engineering and verification and validation; communication link analysis and scheduling; mission and maneuver design; system-wide operations; activity planning; and navigation.

POC: John Schreiner


First Gov logo
NASA Logo -