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LCROSS (Lock this please mods. post in _J_'s thread, people)

Curly_BraceCurly_Brace Not a Robot SkeletonA Robot Skeleton PartyRegistered User regular
edited October 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Who is ready for some hot rocket-on-moon action?

What's going on this morning? Why, the American space agency, NASA, is impacting a Centaur rocket stage into a crater at the Moon's South Pole and observing the resulting ejecta with the LCROSS space probe.

Here is an artist's rendering of the spacecraft and Centaur stage:
lcross.jpg

Why, might you ask, is NASA doing this? Well, the prominent hypothesis postulates the existence of water ice just underneath the surface on the Moon, namely at the poles where sunlight is less likely to heat up any ice hidden in deep craters.

By impacting the Centaur rocket stage, NASA scientists hope to kick up a large plume of lunar material, and using the LCROSS probe and Earth-based telescopes (plus good ol' Hubble and its new cameras!) to observe and analyze the impact plume for signs of water. The impact is designed to throw up materials below the top layer of lunar regolith, material that may hold said water ice.

If we do find water ice in abundance on the Moon, this would mean long-term stays on the Moon would be much, much easier. Namely, because water (besides it obvious uses) can be used as fuel (in hydrogen fuel cells) and in rocket fuel (as liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen).


You can watch the impact on NASA TV, with coverage starting at 6:15am EDT. (If you watch it now, they are setting up the COLBERT!)

A list of current and future Lunar missions.

And, for those who want to know, info on the next Space Shuttle Mission.

Also, MESSENGER made its third flyby of Mercury last week.

And Apophis is less now considered to be even less of a risk, with a worst-case-scenario have a 1-in-250,000 chance of happening.

Curly_Brace on
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Posts

  • ProPatriaMoriProPatriaMori Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    For context's sake, smashing shit into the moon isn't exactly new. I think most, if not all of the Apollo LEMs (except 13's which rode back and re-entered the Earth's atmosphere along with an RTG) were dropped on the moon. The impacts were observed with seismometers to determine more about the moon's interior.

    This will be a fun one, though.

    EDIT: In keeping with the general space exploration bit of the thread, I'm living in Houston with a BS in Aerospace engineering. I keep track of what's going on in space and the industry with these sites:

    Hyperbola
    NASA Spaceflight

    and regularly get damn good photo essays on space (and other topics) from Boston Globe's Big Picture blog.

  • Curly_BraceCurly_Brace Not a Robot Skeleton A Robot Skeleton PartyRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Thanks for the links, PPM. Do you do anything space-related at the moment with your job?

    Also, I will update my OP with info from _J_'s thread.

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  • ProPatriaMoriProPatriaMori Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Thanks for the links, PPM. Do you do anything space-related at the moment with your job?

    Also, I will update my OP with info from _J_'s thread.

    American aerospace is enjoying the double-whammy of NASA administrative transition and economic hardship and so I am presently jobless. I do routinely annoy people who do space-related things though.

  • Curly_BraceCurly_Brace Not a Robot Skeleton A Robot Skeleton PartyRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Rachel Maddow had an awesome segment on the LCROSS mission, and she interviewed Caroline Moore, the youngest person to discover a supernova, ever! The video segment is on the Rachel Maddow Show site.

    (Sorry, I have no idea how to embed that video on here.)

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