Two U.S. spacecraft are set to crash on the moon Friday. On purpose. And we’re all invited to watch.
NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite is scheduled to drop its Centaur upper-stage rocket on the lunar surface at 7:31 a.m. ET.
NASA hopes the impact will kick up enough dust to help the LCROSS probe find the presence of water in the moon’s soil. Four minutes later, the LCROSS will follow through the debris plume, collecting and relaying data back to Earth before crashing into the Cabeus crater near the moon’s south pole.
The LCROSS is carrying spectrometers, near-infrared cameras, a visible camera and a visible radiometer. These instruments will help NASA scientists analyze the plume of dust — more than 250 metric tons’ worth — for water vapor. Video See how moon will be ‘bombed’ »
The orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will watch, and photograph, the collisions. And hundreds of telescopes on Earth also will be focused on the two plumes.
NASA is encouraging amateur astronomers to join the watch party.
“We expect the debris plumes to be visible through midsized backyard telescopes — 10 inches and larger,” said Brian Day at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. Day is an amateur astronomer who is leading education and public outreach for the LCROSS mission.
“The initial explosions will probably be hidden behind crater walls, but the plumes will rise high enough above the crater’s rim to be seen from Earth,” he said. The Cabeus crater lies in permanent shadow, making observations inside the crater difficult.
The impacts will not be visible to the naked eye or through binoculars. If you don’t have a telescope, or you live in areas where daylight will obscure the viewing, NASA TV will broadcast the crashes live. Coverage begins at 6:15 a.m. ET Friday.
Hmmm. Wonder what they are really going to destroy on the moon. 😉
NASA: Lunar crashes won’t hurt the moon.
The moon is due for a double whammy from two NASA probes Friday, with scientists assuring some skeptics that smacking thewith spacecraft is really okay.
NASA’s LCROSS mission will slam a spacecraft and an empty rocket stage into the moon’s south pole Friday morning at 7:31 a.m. EDT (1131 GMT) in a search for water ice buried in the perpetual shadows of lunar craters.
Scientists are eagerly awaiting the LCROSS crashes and hope they’ll provide a definitive answer on whether lunar water ice could be used to support future astronauts on the moon. But at least one person — novelist and screenwriter Amy Ephron — has spoken out against the $79 million mission on her Huffington Post blog and launched a Twitter campaign (“helpsavethemoon”) to save the moon from future onslaught.
“I’m not a big fan of explosions, anyway. In Iraq or Afghanistan or theof the Moon. But who does have a territorial prerogative there?” Ephron wrote. “Who has jurisdiction? Who has the right to say that it’s okay to blow up a crater on the moon?”
Apparently, Mother Nature does. The moon is covered in craters, with new ones like those to be created by the LCROSS probes popping up all the time by meteorites that pummel the lunar surface.
“The image of this impact, what we’re doing with the moon, is something that occurs naturally four times a month on the moon, whether we’re there or not,” LCROSS principal investigator Tony Colaprete told reporters Thursday.
… – via MSNBC