LRO Status 6/23/09 6:35 pm EDT, LRO Team Blog
"About a week and half after reaching the commissioning orbit we will begin activating the remaining instruments and start calibrating them. These have not been turned on yet for a number of reasons. First, the insertion at the moon is a critical and time constrained phase of the mission and the prime focus is safely delivering LRO into the right orbit. Secondly, the instruments (except the radiation instruments which are already on) are not designed to yield very useful or interesting data from anywhere except LRO's planned orbits. The cameras in particular are designed to build their images as the lunar surfaces passes through their FOV at ~1.6 km/s as LRO orbits the moon. They cannot be simply pointed at the moon or earth during our transit to the moon and snap a photo."
Keith's note: What a cogent answer. Too bad these folks did not tell this to EMSD PAO last week. Or did no one think to ask them? I am now told that LROC images will be released in "early" July - in other words, in a few weeks. When I first asked ESMD PAO when the images would be released last week they were not exactly certain and replied that it could be "within the first couple of months". Then they said "a month to a month and a half". PAO often reports exactly what mission managers and PIs tell them to say since they are the experts. I find it rather curious that the story that ESMD PAO was fed (and repeated to me) has suddenly changed and that images are now going to be available much sooner than had originally been stated. Why didn't they just say so in the first place?
When Will NASA Release LRO Imagery?, earlier post
NASA ESMD PAO Statement Regarding Release of LRO Imagery, earlier post