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Guide to the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) Project Collection, 2007-2010
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Acquisition Information
  • Administrative History
  • Sources Consulted:
  • Indexing Terms
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement of the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) Project Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) Project Collection
    Date (inclusive): 2007-2010
    Collection Number: AFS8000.5-LCROSS
    Creator: Ames Research Center
    Extent: Volume: 1,145 digital objects (approx. 40.9 gigabytes) and 7.6 cubic feet of analog material

    Number of containers: 2
    Repository: Ames Research Center, Ames History Office
    Moffett Field, California 94035
    Abstract: This collection of Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) records, accumulated by various team members, primarily contains material related to the mission's outreach efforts. Included are digital photographs, fact sheets, booklets, technical papers, briefings, presentations, video footage, social media campaign records, awards, posters, ephemera, artifacts, and memorabilia.
    Language: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright does not apply to United States government records. For non-government material, researcher must contact the original creator.

    Preferred Citation

    NASA Ames History Office, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. AFS8000.5-LCROSS, Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) Project Collection, 2007-2010, [Container number] : [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].

    Abbreviated Citation

    NASA ARC. AFS8000.5-LCROSS, [Container number] : [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].

    Administrative Information

    Separated Material

    Some duplicate digital items were removed. When identical content appeared in both compressed and uncompressed directories, the former was removed and the latter retained.

    Related Material

    AFS8000.5-LP: Lunar Prospector Project Records, 1995-1998
    AFS1070.8A: Archives Reference Collection

    Acquisition Information

    Transferred from LCROSS team members Stephan F. Ord on March 8, 2011; Kimberly Ennico Smith on March 14, 2011; Khaled F. Galal on March 23, 2011; Daniel Andrews on April 18 and 21, 2011 and May 23, 2011; and Robert D. Barber on June 9, 2011.

    Administrative History

    On June 18, 2009, NASA launched the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS, shepherding spacecraft) as a secondary payload to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas V 401 rocket on a mission to study Earth's moon. LCROSS was designed to confirm the presence and nature of water ice on the moon, and to study the composition of lunar regolith by using the launch vehicle's upper stage as a kinetic impactor and its shepherding spacecraft as a data collector. The impact would dislodge lunar material at the bottom of a permanently shadowed crater near the moon's south pole and elevate it high into the sunlight, thus enabling the instruments aboard the spacecraft to record its characteristics. The main task of the LRO mission, which is still active, was to map the moon and characterize future landing sites. Both missions achieved their primary objectives. LCROSS detected water in the moon's Cabeus crater, and LRO returned nearly 200 terabytes of images and high-resolution maps of the lunar surface, and continues to transmit altimeter measurements back to Earth.
    LCROSS separated from LRO shortly after launch, carrying the spent upper stage portion of the Centaur rocket with it, and proceeded to shepherd the rocket tank to the impact site. The trajectory consisted of a lunar flyby on June 23, 2009, followed by highly elliptical polar Earth orbits (Lunar Gravity Assist Lunar Return Orbits), designed to give the craft a high angle of impact and sufficient speed to maximize the amount of material kicked up during impact. The plan while in transit was to allow the fuel remaining in the rocket to dissipate and to turn the sides of the tank toward the sun in order to bake out residual water. The flight proceeded smoothly until August 22, 2009, when the operations team detected an alarming, mission-threatening anomaly as it prepared to orient the cold side of the tank toward the sun. Preceding this maneuver, during a planned break in communications with the spacecraft, a systems malfunction had caused the thrusters to fire almost continuously and burn a sizeable amount of propellant. However, the team resolved the spacecraft emergency in time to guide LCROSS to the impact site without running out of fuel. On October 9, 2009, the LCROSS shepherding spacecraft separated from the Centaur and sent the rocket tank hurtling toward the bottom of the Cabeus crater at a speed of about two kilometers per second. It then performed a braking maneuver to create a four-minute distance, positioned its instruments toward the impact site, and followed the Centaur down to strike the moon in its turn. The first impact dislodged a large plume of debris, dust, and vapor (approximately 250-350 metric tons), which was measured and photographed by the shepherding spacecraft before that spacecraft hit the surface minutes later. This final stage of the mission was timed so that LRO, orbiting high above the crash site, would be in position to collect data from both impact events.
    The data returned from the instruments aboard LCROSS and LRO showed that the debris plume contained pure water ice grains as well as volatiles, such as methane, ammonia, hydrogen gas, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and some light metals, such as sodium and mercury. This detection of water on the moon definitively confirmed what the scientific community had already suspected based on data obtained from three earlier lunar missions that remotely detected the chemical signatures of water in the moon's polar regions: Clementine (Naval Research Laboratory, launched 1994), Lunar Prospector (NASA Ames Research Center, launched 1998), and Chandrayaan-1 (Indian Space Research Organization, launched 2008).
    Mission Development and Management

    Northrop Grumman, located in Redondo Beach, California, designed and built the LCROSS spacecraft bus with oversight from the team at NASA Ames Research Center. In order to fit LCROSS into the launch vehicle as a secondary payload to LRO, an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adaptor, or ESPA ring, served as the main structure of the spacecraft. Designers placed the fuel tank inside the ring and positioned the science instruments, solar array, command and control systems, communications devices, antennas, and batteries around the outside of the ring. The craft carried a science payload of nine instruments designed and developed by NASA Ames for observing the impact and the characteristics of the resulting ejecta cloud: five cameras (one visible, two near infrared, and two mid-infrared), one total luminance photometer, one visible spectrometer, and two near infrared spectrometers.
    On April 10, 2006 NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate selected the NASA Ames proposal for LCROSS to lift off as a secondary payload to the LRO. LCROSS had to remain within a budget of 79 million dollars, weigh less than 1,000 kilograms, and be completed in time for the LRO launch scheduled just 31 months following the selection date. To meet these requirements, the designers pursued a non-traditional approach, creatively employing various management measures and incorporating low-cost components. For example, they assembled a humble but fully capable control room from a series of networked personal computers patched into the secure local network at NASA Ames. The spacecraft incorporated durable, commercially-available, "off-the-shelf" materials such as the visible camera and other scientific instruments, and existing flight-qualified hardware, such as the ESPA ring, rather than costly, time- and resource-consuming custom-made items. The Centaur was repurposed for use as the kinetic impactor, thus maximizing the mass available to the working payload. Ultimately, the spacecraft was completed and approved on time, at a total mission cost of 79 million dollars.
    The mission was managed from NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, under the direction of Project Manager Daniel R. Andrews of the Office of the Director of Programs and Projects, Project Management Division (Code PX). NASA Ames Principal Investigator Anthony Colaprete led the science investigations (Office of the Director of Science, Space Science and Astrobiology Division, Planetary Systems Branch, Code SST). Northrop Grumman, Goddard Space Flight Center, Kennedy Space Center, and the Deep Space Network provided operational support.
    Social Media Outreach

    In addition to the usual channels such as traditional Web sites, printed publications, and broadcast media, the LCROSS mission team experimented with disseminating information to the public in real time through two social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter. Accounts were set up in June 2008 and maintained throughout the entire mission by Payload Scientist Kim Ennico Smith and Observation Coordinator and Co-Investigator Jennifer Heldmann, with support from other team members and NASA Ames public affairs officers. The Twitter feed, which was presented from the point of view of the spacecraft, was terminated after the impact event, followed by the Facebook page a few months later. On average, Twitter was updated about twice a day and Facebook twice a week, with heavier messaging during the launch, flyby, and impact events. Thousands of individuals from all over the world signed on as Facebook "fans" and Twitter "followers." Before the spacecraft launch, each outlet had about 2,000 followers, whose numbers climbed during the launch phase, then again during impact phase. After impact, there were over 11,000 Facebook fans and approximately 13,300 Twitter followers.

    Sources Consulted:

    Andrews, Daniel. Managing the Bad Day. Ask Magazine. Issue 44, Fall 2011.
    Indian Space Research Organization. Chandrayaan-1. Retrieved January 12, 2012 from www.isro.org/chandrayaan/ 
    NASA Ames History Office, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. AFS8000.5-LCROSS, Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) Project Collection, 2007-2010, 1 : 10. Andrews, Daniel. LCROSS: A High-Return, Small Satellite Mission (paper presented at the 4S Symposium in Funchal, Madeira, June 4, 2010).
    NASA ARC. AFS8000.5-LCROSS, 1 : 10. Colaprete A., P. Schultz, J. Heldmann, D. Wooden, M. Shirley, K. Ennico, B. Hermalyn, W. Marshall, A. Ricco, R. C. Elphic, D. Goldstein, D. Summy, G. D. Bart, E. Asphaug, D. Korycansky, D. Landis, and L. Sollitt, Detection of Water in the LCROSS Ejecta Plume, Science, 330, No. 6003, 463-468, Oct. 2010.
    NASA ARC. AFS8000.5-LCROSS, 1 : 10. Ennico Smith, K., J. Heldmann, L. Conrad, A. van Dijk, LCROSS & Social Media (internal paper prepared on February 28, 2010).
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2011). Ice on the Moon. Retrieved January 12, 2012 from http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/ice/ice_moon.html 
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2010). LCROSS Project Site. Retrieved January 10, 2012 from http://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/ 
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2010). LCROSS Targeting. Retrieved January 10, 2012 from http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/searchforwater/LCROSS_targeting.html 
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2011). National Space Science Data Center Master Catalog, Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). Retrieved January 10, 2012 from http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=2009-031B 
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2010). Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Portal. Retrieved January 11, 2012 from http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/main/index.html 
    Northrop Grumman (2009). Northrop Grumman-built LCROSS Satellite Impacts Moon. Retrieved January 12, 2012 from http://www.irconnect.com/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=175079 

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms may be used to index this collection.

    Corporate Name

    Ames Research Center
    Northrop Grumman Corporation. Aerospace Systems


    Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (Spacecraft)
    Lunar exploration
    Moon--Exploration--20th century.

    Scope and Content

    The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) Project Collection (7.6 cubic feet and 1,145 digital objects totaling approximately 40.9 gigabytes) contains records and artifacts accumulated by various LCROSS Team members, including Project Control Manager, Stephan Ord, Payload Scientist Kimberly Ennico Smith, and Project Manager Daniel Andrews. The bulk of the material is in electronic format and documents the team's outreach efforts to inform, educate, and engage the general public and scientific community. Other records were generated for internal use in the course of planning and executing the mission, for inspiring the team, and for commemorating milestones with family and friends. Included are some informational materials produced outside of Ames about the mission, as well as honors and awards bestowed on the team by NASA and other institutions.
    Series I contains a full set of the records that were accumulated by the project office and cleared for public release. Included are digital photographs, fact sheets, booklets, technical papers, briefings, presentations, news releases, magazine articles, data samples, spacecraft animations, video footage of the spacecraft assembly and an environmental test, broadcasts featuring the mission, toys, and games. Series II documents the social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter with reports, statistics, and archived material. Series III consists of artifacts and oversized material in the form of awards, posters, memorabilia, and ephemeral items. Series IV includes images, operational material, and video collected by various individual team members from Ames and other institutions.

    Arrangement of the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) Project Collection

    This collection is arranged in four series:
    • I. Outreach and Educational Material for Public Release
    • II. Social Media Campaign Records
    • III. Awards, Memorabilia, and Ephemera
    • IV. Miscellaneous Material Accumulated by LCROSS Team Members
    Series are organized by function according to donors, with contents further arranged alphabetically and according to format (analog textual materials, digital materials, artifacts, and oversized material). Series IV records subject to national export restrictions are boxed separately. "Born digital" records were mainly kept in their original order, with the exception of a few slight shifts to avoid redundancies. Loose analog versions of digital files were physically placed with files for the corresponding digital records, in accordance with the digital file structure.
    Though the bulk of this collection is in digital form, it is represented as being physically arranged into boxes and folders. This scheme was chosen to best accommodate access to the blend of digital and physical materials. All folders bearing "Digital" in the title contain copies of the full file directories, while all folders marked "Analog" contain any physical items the team produced from the digital files, as well as selected copies of some of the files printed out by the archivist. Researcher access is not limited to analog records.