This Day In History: NASA’s Lunar Prospector Launched From Cape Canaveral

By  //  January 6, 2016

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On January 6, 1998, at 9:28 p.m., the Lunar Prospector launched from Cape Canaveral. (NASA Image)

NASA – On January 6, 1998, at 9:28 p.m., the Lunar Prospector launched from Cape Canaveral.

The mission was designed to answer long-standing questions about the Moon’s resources, structure, and origins.

Prospector mapped the Moon’s surface composition and looked for possible deposits of polar ice.

It also measured magnetic and gravity fields and studied outgassing events.

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The mission had a dramatic ending – it intentionally impacted a crater near the lunar South Pole, in hopes that water vapor from suspected ice deposits would be released and a plume would be detectable from Earth.

The plume wasn’t seen, but data from Lunar Prospector provided the first direct evidence that there are deposits of water ice on the lunar poles.


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