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Target: Moon  
State: Planned

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Kind: Lunar orbiter

State: Successful

Place: Moon

Operator: NASA

Instruments: Gamma ray spectrometer (GRS)Lunar Prospector neutron spectrometer (NS)Alpha particle spectrometer (APS)Doppler gravity experiment (DGE)Magnetometer (MAG)Electron reflectometer (ER)Official insignia of the Lunar Prospector mission Discovery program← NEAR ShoemakerStardust →



Duration: 570 days

Mission Ending

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending." - Jim Henson


Rocket: Athena II

Kind: NASA

Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin

Mass: 295 kilograms (650 lb)

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral SLC-46


"Requesting permission for flyby." Maverick - Top Gun


Reference System: Selenocentric

1º Orbit: Lunar


"The journey, not the arrival, matters; the voyage, not the landing." - Paul Theroux

Lunar Prospector was the third mission selected by NASA for full development and construction as part of the Discovery Program. At a cost of $62.8 million, the 19-month mission was designed for a low polar orbit investigation of the Moon, including mapping of surface composition including polar ice deposits, measurements of magnetic and gravity fields, and study of lunar outgassing events. The mission ended July 31, 1999, when the orbiter was deliberately crashed into a crater near the lunar south pole, after the presence of water ice was successfully detected. Data from the mission allowed the construction of a detailed map of the surface composition of the Moon, and helped to improve understanding of the origin, evolution, current state, and resources of the Moon. Several articles on the scientific results were published in the journal Science. Lunar Prospector was managed by NASA Ames Research Center with the prime contractor Lockheed Martin. The Principal Investigator for the mission was Alan Binder. His personal account of the mission, Lunar Prospector: Against all Odds, is highly critical of the bureaucracy of NASA overall, and of its contractors. In 2013 an unidentified object was discovered in an unstable orbit around the Earth, and assigned the provisional number WT1190F. After it crashed into the Indian Ocean it was identified as probably the translunar injector of Lunar Prospector.