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NASA

To the Moon!
News story originally written on December 9, 1997

The first NASA lunar mission in 25 years will be launched soon after the New Year begins. The Lunar Prospector spacecraft will be launched on January 5, 1998. After only a month's travel time to the Moon, it will begin making the first complete maps of the lunar surface.

The Lunar Prospector's mission will be a profound one. Over 75% of the Moon's surface is not mapped out in detail. In addition, there are several mysteries about the Moon's composition and internal processes. The Lunar Prospector will provide information about all of these inconsistencies by mapping out the lunar surface composition, and gravity/magnetic fields. In addition, the craft will try to detect any kind of volatile activity on the Moon, and detect whether or not the Moon's poles contain water ice.

The Lunar Prospector's mission is expected to last one year, and will have a polar orbit about the Moon. The craft has a mass of 660 pounds, and is 4.5 feet high by 4 feet in diameter.

Data from this mission could help scientists plan a potential lunar base and develop theories of the formation of the solar system.

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