Artist concept of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is cited as one of the best innovations in aviation in the December issue of Popular Science.
"It is an honor to be selected by Popular Science for Best of What’s New in aviation," said Craig Tooley, LRO project manager from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "There was tremendous excitement about the United States returning to the moon after many years. I believe our selection is a result of that excitement."
Each year, the editors of Popular Science review thousands of products in search of the top 100 tech innovations of the year; breakthrough products and technologies that represent a significant leap in their categories. The winners -- the Best of What's New -- are awarded inclusion in the much-anticipated December issue of Popular Science, the most widely read issue of the year since the debut of Best of What's New in 1987. Best of What's New awards are presented to 100 new products and technologies in 11 categories: Automotive, Aviation and Space, Computing, Engineering, Gadgets, Green Technology, Home Entertainment, Security, Home Technology, Personal Health and Recreation.
"For 22 years, Popular Science has honored the innovations that surprise and amaze us -- those that make a positive impact on our world today and challenge our views of what’s possible in the future." said Mark Jannot, editor-in-chief of Popular Science. "The Best of What’s New Award is the magazine’s top honor, and the 100 winners -- chosen from among thousands of entrants -- represent the highest level of achievement in their fields."
LRO launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. on June 18, 2009. Since that time the spacecraft has completed calibration and commissioning. LRO has already begun its detailed survey of the moon. First results from the mission included -- new looks at the Apollo landing sites; indications that permanently shadowed and nearby regions may harbor water and hydrogen; observations that large areas in the permanently shadowed regions are colder than Pluto; and detailed information on terrain roughness.
LRO is scheduled for a one year exploration mission in a polar orbit about 31 miles above the lunar surface. During the next year, LRO will produce a complete map of the lunar surface in unprecedented detail, search for resources and potential safe landing sites for human explorers and measure lunar temperatures and radiation levels.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center built and manages the mission for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The Institute for Space Research, Moscow, provided the neutron detector aboard the spacecraft.