LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) Observation campaign: Strategies, implementation, and lessons learned

Jennifer L. Heldmann, Anthony Colaprete, Diane H. Wooden, Robert F. Ackermann, David D. Acton, Peter R. Backus, Vanessa Bailey, Jesse G. Ball, William C. Barott, Samantha K. Blair, Marc W. Buie, Shawn Callahan, Nancy J. Chanover, Young Jun Choi, Al Conrad, Dolores M. Coulson, Kirk B. Crawford, Russell DeHart, Imke De Pater, Michael DisantiJames R. Forster, Reiko Furusho, Tetsuharu Fuse, Tom Geballe, J. Duane Gibson, David Goldstein, Stephen A. Gregory, David J. Gutierrez, Ryan T. Hamilton, Taiga Hamura, David E. Harker, Gerry R. Harp, Junichi Haruyama, Morag Hastie, Yutaka Hayano, Phillip Hinz, Peng K. Hong, Steven P. James, Toshihiko Kadono, Hideyo Kawakita, Michael S. Kelley, Daryl L. Kim, Kosuke Kurosawa, Duk Hang Lee, Michael Long, Paul G. Lucey, Keith Marach, Anthony C. Matulonis, Richard M. McDermid, Russet McMillan, Charles Miller, Hong Kyu Moon, Ryosuke Nakamura, Hirotomo Noda, Natsuko Okamura, Lawrence Ong, Dallan Porter, Jeffery J. Puschell, John T. Rayner, J. Jedadiah Rembold, Katherine C. Roth, Richard J. Rudy, Ray W. Russell, Eileen V. Ryan, William H. Ryan, Tomohiko Sekiguchi, Yasuhito Sekine, Mark A. Skinner, Mitsuru Sôma, Andrew W. Stephens, Alex Storrs, Robert M. Suggs, Seiji Sugita, Eon Chang Sung, Naruhisa Takatoh, Jill C. Tarter, Scott M. Taylor, Hiroshi Terada, Chadwick J. Trujillo, Vidhya Vaitheeswaran, Faith Vilas, Brian D. Walls, Jun Ihi Watanabe, William J. Welch, Charles E. Woodward, Hong Suh Yim, Eliot F. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


NASA's LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) mission was designed to explore the nature of previously detected enhanced levels of hydrogen near the lunar poles. The LCROSS mission impacted the spent upper stage of the launch vehicle into a permanently shadowed region of the lunar surface to create an ejecta plume. The resultant impact crater and plume were then observed by the LCROSS Shepherding Spacecraft as well as a cadre of telescopes on the Earth and in space to determine the nature of the materials contained within the permanently shadowed region. The Shepherding Spacecraft then became a second impactor which was also observed by multiple assets. The LCROSS Observation Campaign was a key component of the LCROSS mission. The goal of the Observation Campaign was to realize the scientific benefits of extending the LCROSS observations to multiple ground and space-based assets. This paper describes the LCROSS Observation Campaign and provides an overview of the Campaign coordination and logistics as well as a summary of the observation techniques utilized at a multitude of observatories. Lessons learned from the LCROSS Observation Campaign are also discussed to assist with the planning of future unique observing events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-140
Number of pages48
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for Hubble Space Telescope observations (program number HST-GO-11806.02-A) was provided by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Incorporated, under NASA contract NAS5-26555. Many thanks to Tony Roman for help at all stages of planning and implementation of these observations.

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The LCROSS mission was funded by NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) at NASA Headquarters. The authors gratefully acknowledge NASA’s ESMD and the LCROSS Project Office at NASA Ames Research Center for managing the LCROSS mission. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate also supported the LCROSS Astronomer Workshop and science analysis of the data. The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) provided logistical support for both the LCROSS Site Selection and Astronomer workshops. NASA worked with USRA to provide support to several Astronomer teams for data collection, analysis, and data delivery to the Planetary Data System. In particular we thank Susie Slavney and Ed Guinness for assistance with archiving the ground-based observations within the Planetary Data System. We also thank each of the observatories and all of the individuals that supported the LCROSS Observation Campaign.

Funding Information:
IRAF is distributed by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

Funding Information:
The AEOS team is grateful to B. Hema and E. Agader, the telescope operators at AEOS. This work was partially supported by the Independent Research and Development program of The Aerospace Corporation.

Funding Information:
Gemini Observatory is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the NSF on behalf of the Gemini partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (United Kingdom), the National Research Council (Canada), CONICYT (Chile), the Australian Research Council (Australia), Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia (Brazil) and Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva (Argentina). C.E.W. and D.E.H. also acknowledge support from the NSF (AST-0706980), and NASA through a grant to SWRI.

Funding Information:
The NMSU-NASA/MSFC team acknowledges the Universities Space Research Association, who supported the APO observations through contract number 03450-32. The NASA/MSFC team acknowledges partial support from the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office. The MMT Observatory is a joint facility of the University of Arizona and the Smithsonian Institution.


  • Missions
  • Moon
  • Observations
  • Telescopes


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