With this week’s scheduled launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, imaging technology from Kodak will again play a key role in the exploration of our solar system. Using images captured by KODAK CCD Image Sensors, the orbiter will be used to create a comprehensive atlas of the moon’s features and resources to aid in the design of a future manned lunar outpost.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is the first mission in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration program, designed to extend human presence in the solar system by returning first to the moon, with missions to Mars and beyond to follow. As the first step in this program, the LRO will provide high-resolution maps of the moon’s surface, identify resources (such as water) on or near the surface that could be used by future astronauts, and better understand the radiation environment. Fundamental to the success of the mission are three cameras – developed by Malin Space Science Systems and based on KODAK CCD Image Sensors – that will provide images of the moon with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail.
“Kodak has a long and rich history of participating in the space program, and we are proud to see this continue with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter,” said Michael Miller, manager of Kodak’s CCD Image Sensor Business, part of the company’s Image Sensor Solutions group. “The selection of KODAK CCD Image Sensors for this mission is a testament to the Kodak teams who design and manufacture all of our CCD devices, making them suitable for use in the demanding environment of space.”
“The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has very challenging imaging requirements – half-meter resolution with the narrow angle camera and high spectral precision with the wide angle camera – and real cost and schedule constraints,” said Michael Ravine, Advanced Projects Manager, Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS). “Designing the LRO cameras around Kodak commercial image sensors enabled us to meet those performance requirements on schedule and budget.”
The orbiter’s Wide Angle Camera will provide a “big picture” view of the moon by capturing images with 100-meter resolution. Based on the KODAK KAI-1001 Image Sensor, a one-megapixel device that provides both high sensitivity and high dynamic range, this camera will also use seven different color bands to identify spectral signatures of minerals that may be present on the moon’s surface.
Two Narrow Angle Cameras on the orbiter will capture high-resolution images of the moon’s surface at 0.5 meter-per-pixel using KODAK KLI-5001 Image Sensors, providing the same level of detail as the highest resolution satellite images of Earth commercially available today. As it fulfills its primary mission to map the surface of the moon, the LRO will also fly over landing sites from the historic Apollo missions, allowing these high-resolution cameras to capture the first images of Apollo-era artifacts from lunar orbit.