LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) Observation Campaign: Strategies, Implementation, and Lessons Learned
NASA's LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) mission was designed to explore the nature of previously detected enhanced levels of hydrogen near the lunar poles. The LCROSS mission impacted the spent upper stage of the launch vehicle into a permanently shadowed region of the lunar surface to create an ejecta plume. The resultant impact crater and plume were then observed by the LCROSS Shepherding Spacecraft as well as a cadre of telescopes on the Earth and in space to determine the nature of the materials contained within the permanently shadowed region. The Shepherding Spacecraft then became a second impactor which was also observed by multiple assets. The LCROSS Observation Campaign was a key component of the LCROSS mission. The goal of the Observation Campaign was to realize the scientific benefits of extending the LCROSS observations to multiple ground and space-based assets. This paper describes the LCROSS Observation Campaign and provides an overview of the Campaign coordination and logistics as well as a summary of the observation techniques utilized at a multitude of observatories. Lessons learned from the LCROSS Observation Campaign are also discussed to assist with the planning of future unique observing events.