Images: Lunar crash course; interplanetary visitors

Images: Lunar crash course; interplanetary visitors

Summary: NASA is planning to crash a water-seeking probe into the moon while ESA visits Venus. Plus, news from Mars.

TOPICS: Nasa / Space

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  • Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

    NASA announced plans to crash the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter into the moon, twice, in 2008. The primary mission of the $73 million, 2-ton probe, shown in this illustration, will be to search for water that could be used for manned missions.

  • Crash landing

    When it reaches the moon, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will break into two stages. The first stage will crash into a crater, and the remaining satellite will study the plume and fly through it to detect its composition.

    When its studies are complete, the second stage will crash into the moon and be analyzed by other lunar orbiters and Earth-based oberservatories. The craft will also perform lunar mapping duties.

  • Venus probe

    This is an artist's impression of the Venus Express entering Venus' orbit on Tuesday. In this phase of the mission, the most challenging since launch, the spacecraft's main engine burns for about 50 minutes to reduce its speed as it approaches Venus. This enables the Venus Express to be captured by the planet's gravitation.

    "Everything went as it was planned, clearly, without difficulties," said Gaele Winters, the European Space Agency's director of operations. "This is a great success."

Topic: Nasa / Space

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