Last June, a bunch of NASA scientists were looking for the ultimate pool party. Unfortunately, Henderson’s backyard was in shambles, and we all remember what happened at Kaufman’s last gala. With the day passes at Great Adventure running too steep, they decided they’d take the next logical step, and blow up the moon. Sorta. The project, dubbed Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, was part of the United States’ ongoing effort to revisit, and potentially colonize, the Earth’s moon. Specifically, the goal was to determine if water does, or did, exist on the satellite. The orbiter, known as LRO, separated from the Atlas V rocket, on a crash-course with the rocky lunar surface, aiming to dig it’s way deep into the crust using sheer force. Much to NASA’s credit, not only was the operation successful, but it looks like there’s a good deal of water up there!
So what’s the tally from the experiment? Just over 40 gallons of ice and vapor; the formation of water in the south pole’s Cabeus crater, never exposed to the evaporating power of the sun. Not exactly enough to power the Slip n’Slide, but its significantly more than many expected to ever find. The findings have led some at NASA to speculate there are up to 1 billion gallons of water in the nearby area, lending credence to the notion of cultivating it. It is perhaps the single greatest discovery on the path toward creating an outpost on the moon.
The hole carved by the rocket is less than 100 feet across, which kicked up carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sodium, silver, ammonia, and other elements in addition to the water findings. Water on the site could not only be used for drinking, growing, and generating power, it could also be the basis of fuel sources to send docking ships further into space – or ensure a safe trip home.
LRO\LCROSS launch 06 18 09
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launched at 5:32 p.m. EDT aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellite will relay more information about the lunar environment than any other previous mission to the moon. The orbiter, known as LRO, separated from the Atlas V rocket carrying it and a companion mission, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.
LCROSS Lunar Impact
NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, created twin impacts on the moon’s surface early Friday in a search for water ice. Scientists will analyze data from the spacecraft’s instruments to assess whether water ice is present.
The satellite traveled 5.6 million miles during an historic 113-day mission that ended in the Cabeus crater, a permanently shadowed region near the moon’s south pole. The spacecraft was launched June 18 as a companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“The LCROSS science instruments worked exceedingly well and returned a wealth of data that will greatly improve our understanding of our closest celestial neighbor,” said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS principal investigator and project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “The team is excited to dive into data.”