On 18 June 2009, the NASA Moon mission referred to as Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) began. This mission involves six experiments providing a data platform for future research work on the Moon. The probe's objectives include finding safe landing sites from an altitude of fifty kilometres, locating resources on the Moon, learning more about environmental radiation exposure on the Moon and testing and demonstrate key technologies. Although this mission was scheduled to last for one year, it had the option to be extended for up to five years.
American scientists are being supported by an international team that includes German scientists from Berlin and Münster. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is supporting the German team members involved, who are drawn from Germany’s national space programme.
On a joint basis with LRO, NASA sent another probe to the Moon, the collision impact LCROSS unit, or Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite. This satellite weighs two tons and one of its objectives is to observe the dust cloud from the collision impact of the upper stage of the Centaur in a region of permanent shadow close to the Moon’s south pole before crashing into the lunar surface in the same general area. Results from the LCROSS have verified the presence of ice in craters and confirmed data obtained during earlier lunar missions.