During the Summer of 2009, NASA will torpedo a big barrel of metal into a forever dark spot on the Moon producing an explosion on the order of 2,000 pounds of dynamite. The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) is designed to target a location that is permanently located in a shadow of the Sun where there is a possibility of having water ice stored at the constant estimated temperature of 40 degrees above absolute zero.
We won’t actually be able to see the crash on the surface, but the plume is what is of interest … if water ice existed in the dark spot, then it might be thrown up into the hyper-thin atmosphere and water molecules vaporized into constituent H and OH, which can then be detected by their characteristic wavelengths.
Let alone that this mission is the first critical experimental step to returning human beings to the Moon — for permanent residence — but, the greatest part of this lunar research program is that NASA will be scheduling the event so that amateur astronomers in Hawaii and the western United States will be able to monitor the action from their backyard telescopes (as well as professional astronomers with their multi-million dollar telescopes).
Learn more about the LCROSS mission by following the links below and find out how you can take part in the experiment. Mission scientists believe that the impact plume will be visible from amateur-class telescopes with apertures as small as 10 to 12 inches. NASA will be activity soliciting images from the public and will be posting additional information on this outstanding opportunity on their website.
DPRI AmSci Journal will keep a watch on the developments, so stay tuned! (And, be sure to register with DPRI to receive free email updates!)
“A Flash of Insight: LCROSS Mission Update” :: Science@NASA :: August 11, 2008 :: [ READ ]
NASA LCROSS Mission to the Moon [ VIEW ]
“NASA LCROSS Strategy & Astronomer Observation Campaign” :: [ LEARN MORE ]