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Guide to the Lunar Prospector Project Records, 1995-1998
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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 Prospector Project Records

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Lunar Prospector Project Records
    Date (inclusive): 1995-1998
    Collection Number: AFS8000.5-LP
    Creator: Ames Research Center
    Extent: Number of containers: 19

    Volume: 6.5 cubic feet
    Repository: Ames Research Center, Ames History Office
    Moffett Field, California 94035
    Abstract: The Lunar Prospector mission management records accumulated by Deputy Mission Manager Sylvia A. Cox document the management of all aspects of the project, from the initial proposal through the extended mission. The collection contains proposals, contracts, correspondence, status reports, planning documents, design reviews, scientific findings, presentations, and news footage.
    Language: English

    Administrative Information


    Access to portions of the collection is subject to national export restrictions. Contact the repository for a complete inventory.

    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-LP, Lunar Prospector Project Records, 1995-1998, [Container number]: [Folder number]. [Identification of item]. [Date, if available].

    Abbreviated Citation

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

    Administrative Information

    Related Collections

    AFS1070.8A: Archives Reference Collection
    PP10.16: David W. Lozier Papers
    PP03.02: Robert W. Jackson Collection, 1964-1999

    Acquisition Information

    Transferred by Peter D. Klupar on February 9, 2011.

    Administrative History

    The Lunar Prospector Discovery Mission to study our moon launched from Kennedy Space Center atop an Athena II rocket on January 7, 1998 UT (January 6 EST). Five days later, it reached the moon and circled it in a polar orbit for the next 19 months. The spacecraft mapped the moon, collecting data about gravity fields, magnetic fields, geochemical composition, and gas-release events. On July 31, 1999 UT the mission team purposely slammed the craft into a permanently shadowed area of a crater near the south pole, in an attempt to find evidence of water ice. Though this dramatic attempt proved unsuccessful, data from the neutron spectrometer experiment showed an abundance of hydrogen. Analysis of these data along with data obtained from the Naval Research Laboratory's Clementine mission strongly suggested that deposits of water ice might be present at both poles of the moon (Feldman, et al. 1998).
    Lunar Prospector was a small, spin-stabilized spacecraft, just over four feet in diameter and about four and one half feet tall. It had three booms that extended about eight feet out and carried five instruments and six science experiments: a Gamma Ray Spectrometer, Neutron Spectrometer, Magnetometer, Electron Reflectometer, Alpha Particle Spectrometer, and Doppler Gravity Experiment. Also aboard Lunar Prospector was a small polycarbonate vial containing one ounce of the cremains of the late astronomer Eugene Shoemaker. As an honorary gesture, Shoemaker's ashes were embedded in the lunar surface with the spacecraft, for the first ever space burial of a human being on a celestial body.
    In February 1995, Lunar Prospector was selected to be one of NASA's low cost Discovery Program missions designed to help us explore and better understand the solar system. Characterized by its adherence to a "faster, better, cheaper" model envisioned by then NASA Administrator Dan Goldin, the goal of NASA's Discovery Program was "to achieve outstanding results by launching many smaller missions using fewer resources and shorter development times" (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2011). To this aim, the Lunar Prospector team adopted the management approach of Lockheed Martin's "Skunk Works," which used streamlined methods and principles to efficiently develop the U-2, SR-71, and F117A. With a rapid completion in 22 months and total cost of $62.8 million, including development, launch vehicle, and operations (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2010), the Lunar Prospector mission successfully fulfilled Discovery Program objectives.
    The mission was managed from NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, by the Space Projects Division (Code SF) within the Office of the Director of Space Research (Code S), with G. Scott Hubbard designated as Mission Manager. During the life of the project, from proposal phase onward, Hubbard managed the mission while serving as Acting Chief of Code SF (1995-1996), Associate Director of Code S (1997), Deputy Director of Code S (1998), and finally Associate Director for Astrobiology and Space Programs for the Office of the Director (Code D, 1999). Sylvia A. Cox served as Lunar Prospector's Assistant then Deputy Mission Manager, working in the Advanced Projects Branch (Code SFS, 1995-1997) and Project Operations Branch (Code SFE, 1998-1999) of the Space Projects Division. The prime contractor for the mission (under contract NAS2-14256) was Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Company (LMMSC) in neighboring Sunnyvale, California, with Alan B. Binder of the Lunar Research Institute in Tucson, Arizona as Principal Investigator (from 1998-1999, Binder was a LMMSC subcontractor working in Code SF) and Thomas A. Dougherty served as LMMSC Project Manager. LMMSC in Littleton, Colorado provided the Athena II launch vehicle.

    Sources Consulted:

    Feldman, Maurice, Binder, Barraclough, Elphic, and Lawrence, "Fluxes of Fast and Epithermal Neutrons from Lunar Prospector: Evidence for Water Ice at the Lunar Poles." Science 4 (September 1998): 1496-1500.
    Fletcher, "'Burying' a man on the moon." Associated Press, July 31, 1999, retrieved February 17, 2011 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3077929/ns/technology_and_science-space/ 
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2010). Lunar Prospector. Retrieved February 16, 2011 from http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1998-001A 
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2011). Discovery Program Overview. Retrieved February 16, 2011 from http://discovery.nasa.gov/program.cfml 
    NASA Ames History Office, NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, California. AFS1070.8A, Archives Reference Collection. Telephone Directories. 1995-1999.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms may be used to index this collection.

    Corporate Name

    Ames Research Center


    Lunar Prospector (Spacecraft)
    Lunar Exploration
    Moon--Exploration--20th century.

    Scope and Content

    The Lunar Prospector Project Records (6.5 cubic feet), accumulated by Deputy Mission Manager Sylvia A. Cox, document the management of all aspects of the mission: business activities; science objectives and experiments; public outreach and education; flight and launch system design, integration, and testing; and ground system and operations efforts. Also included are published scientific findings and news clips about the mission. Series I is comprised of regular reports that detail the progress of the program and its extension. Plans, costs, scheduling, systems design, operations, and outreach efforts are discussed in these reports. Series II contains major engineering systems and operations design reviews, which reflect the systematic development and examination of the spacecraft and its operational support structures throughout the project. Series III details the development of the launch architecture, with launch vehicle selection, system design, and operations documentation. Series IV contains an assemblage of files related to the initiation, and technical and business oversight of the program. Present are proposals, requirements, contracts, correspondence, mission descriptions, and technical documents. Series V consists of a collection of published research findings in scientific journals such as Science magazine. Series VI contains video footage, most of which is reportage about the mission.
    The bulk of the material in this collection is textual, with a few VHS tapes in Series VI and a handful of decals and CD-ROM discs in the "Outreach Materials" file in Series IV.

    Arrangement of the Lunar Prospector Project Records

    This collection is arranged in six series, with Series I-III arranged chronologically and Series IV-VI arranged alphabetically and by format. In the absence of a usable original order, this arrangement was imposed during processing. Two versions of filenames were present for about fifty percent of the records, one set appearing on the file tabs and another on adhesive notes affixed to the file folders. The latter were used, as they appeared to be the most descriptive and most current. Redundancies in file titles were omitted on a great majority of the files, such as repetition of the words "Lunar Prospector" or "Lunar Prospector Discovery Mission."