Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a robotic spacecraft launched by NASA, currently orbiting the Moon. The unmanned launch of the Lunar Precursor Robotic Program occurred on 18 June 2009, the first United States mission to the Moon in over ten years.LRO is the first mission of the United States's Vision for Space Exploration program. To successfully attain the goals of "The Vision", including human exploration of the Moon, LRO will orbit the Moon, survey lunar resources, and identify possible landing sites. The orbiting probe will be able to provide a 3-D map of the Moon's surface and has provided some of the first images of some Apollo equipment left on the Moon.The Atlas V used to launch LRO also carried the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), which is designed to detect water liberated when the launch vehicle's spent upper stage strikes a lunar crater. Together, LCROSS and LRO form the vanguard of the NASA Lunar Precursor Robotic Program's return to the Moon.

The first images taken by the LRO were published on the July 2, 2009, aimed at the region in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds).On July 17, 2009, some images of the Apollo landing sites were released.

Prior to the LRO's launch, NASA gave members of the public the opportunity to have their names placed in a microchip on the LRO. The deadline for this opportunity was 31 July 2008. About 1.6 million names were submitted.

Microchip panel containing 1.6 million names prepared for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)