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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC)

NSSDCA ID: 2009-031A-01

Mission Name: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)
Principal Investigator:Dr. Mark S. Robinson


The Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Camera (LROC) addresses two of the LRO requirements; landing site certification and polar illumination studies. The primary instrument goals are to identify and certify landing sites with unambiguous identification of meter scale hazards, map permanent shadows and sunlit regions, map polar regions with continuous illumination at the meter scale, make overlapping observations to enable derivation of meter-scale topography, map ilmenite and other minerals with global multispectral imaging, determine the current impact hazard by reimaging 1-2 m/pixel Apollo images, produce a global morphology base map, and characterize regolith properties. To meet these objectives LROC will provide images with better than meter-scale resolution, synoptic 100 m/pixel images of the poles over an entire year, meter-scale maps of regions of permanent or near-permanent illumination near the poles, multiple coregistered observations of potential landing sites and elsewhere for derivation of topogrpahy through stereogrammetric and photometric stereo analysis, a global multispectral data set in seven wavelengths (300-680 nm), a global 100 m/pixel basemap with incidence angles from 60 to 80 degrees, sub-meter images of geologic units, and meter-scale coverage overlapping 1-2 m/pixel resolution Apollo panoramic images.

The LROC comprises three camera heads, two narrow angle and one wide angle. Each narrow angle camera is panchromatic (400-750 nm filter) with a field of view (FOV) of 2.86 degrees, or 2.5 km at 50 km altitude with a resolution of 0.5 m/pixel. Each camera is a cylinder composed of graphite-cyanate composite with a diameter of 26 cm and a length of 70 cm. The cameras use an f/3.59 Cassegrain (Ritchey-Chretien) telescope with a 19.5 cm diameter primary mirror and an effective focal length of 700 mm. The pixel format is 1 x 5000 with a FOV of 10 microradians per pixel, a swath of up to 25 km per image can be taken. Average power use is 6 W with a peak power of 10 W.

The wide angle camera will provide images in seven color bands (visible and ultraviolet) or monochrome. The camera is 14.5 x 9.2 x 7.6 cm and uses 4 W power. It has a 1024 x 1024 pixel CCD and seven filters centered at 315, 360, 415, 560, 600, 640, and 680 nm. For the monochrome images, a push frame format of 1024 x 16 pixels is used. For the filtered images. the push frame format is 704 x 16 pixels. The optics for the visible images is f/5.1 with an effective focal length of 6.0 mm, an entrance pupil diameter of 1.19 mm and a field of view of 1.5 milliradians per pixel, which translates to 75 m/pixel at 50 km altitude. For the UV images the optics are f/5.3 with an entrance pupil diameter of 0.85 mm and a field of view of 2.0 milliradian. The UV images are 4x binned, giving an effective resolution of 400 meters/pixel. The three cameras share a common system which controls the camera sequencing and compresses the data.

Alternate Names

  • LROC
  • urn:nasa:pds:context:instrument:lro.lroc

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Mark S. RobinsonPrincipal InvestigatorNorthwestern

Selected References

  • Robinson, M. S., et al., Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Instrument Overview, Space Sci. Rev., 150, 81-124, doi:10.1007/s11214-010-9634-2, 2010.
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