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LCROSS (it isn’t a sport!)
A California spacecraft, bound for deliberate doom inside a crater on the moon, launched on Thursday, June 18 @ 5:32pm Eastern Time. According to NASA, along with a lunar orbiter, LCROSS is searching for safe landing sites where humans might one day establish Earth's first colony.
On Tuesday, June 23, LCROSS executed what was called a “swingby” of the Moon-
“Passing 1,988 miles (3200 km) from the Moon. The flyby resulted in a gravity assist from the Moon which put LCROSS into its cruise Lunar Gravity Assist Lunar Return Orbit (LGALRO).”
According to NASA’s website:.
“LCROSS will travel to the Moon as a co-manifested payload aboard the launch vehicle for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). LRO is designed to map the lunar surface and characterize landing sites for future missions.”
“Projected Impact at the lunar South Pole: Oct 9, 11:30 UT (7:30 EDT, 4:30 PDT)”
“The identification of water is very important to the future of human activities on the Moon. LCROSS will excavate the permanently dark floor of one of the Moon’s polar craters with two heavy impactors in 2009 to test the theory that ancient ice lies buried there. The impact will eject material from the crater’s surface to create a plume that specialized instruments will be able to analyze for the presence of water (ice and vapor), hydrocarbons and hydrated materials.”
“On March 5th, 1998, Lunar Prospector captured the public’s imagination by announcing the discovery of a signal for water ice at both of the lunar poles. The neutron spectrometer instrument onboard Lunar Prospector detected hydrogen, which is assumed to be in the form of water. The data indicated that a large quantity of water ice, possibly as much as 300 million metric tons, was mixed into the regolith at each pole. This was the first direct evidence of the presence of water ice at the Moon's frigid poles.
The mission ended on July 31, 1999 when Lunar Prospector was deliberately targeted to impact a permanently shadowed area of a crater near the lunar South Pole. It was hoped that the impact would release water vapor from the suspected ice deposits and that the plume would be detectable from Earth, but no plume was observed. However, the LCROSS mission will pick up where Lunar Prospector left off.”
One June 18, 2009 the San Francisco Chronicle reported: “In early October, the spacecraft will send a heavy rocket crashing into the moon's south polar region on a mission to find water that could support future crews bound for Mars. With its mission finished, the spacecraft itself then will die in its own final crash into the lunar surface."
“LCROSS will guide an empty Centaur rocket weighing two tons toward its target. The rocket will crash into the crater at 5,600 mph, creating a new crater - perhaps as large as 5 miles wide. The crash is scheduled to occur Oct. 9. Scientists on Earth expect the impact to blast out a huge cloud of dust, gas and vaporized water ice at least 6 miles high. The cloud will be clearly visible to astronomers at Earth-bound observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope's new planetary camera, allowing each to observe and collect data on its composition. “
Perhaps this is what The Goddard Space Flight Centre means by a
Surface Interrogation Technique?
The Godard site lists 4 types of Surface Interrogation Techniques.
One being a “Mortar” and explained as follows:
“Mortar type probes deployed from central lander or descent craft can cover a larger area and perform short lived investigations of dark craters before freezing, using central craft as a data relay. Can use kinetic energy for depth penetration.
Hard landers/penetrators much less mature: RLEP Investigating current military hardened devices which would need different payload accommodations and navigational enhancements”
On June 19, 2009… the Seattle Exopolitics Examiner stated, “The planned October 9, 2009 bombing of the moon by a NASA orbiter that will bomb the moon with a 2-ton kinetic weapon to create a 5 mile wide deep crater as an alleged water-seeking and lunar colonization experiment, is contrary to space law prohibiting environmental modification of celestial bodies. “ and called for the project to be stopped, short of the “bombing”.
Speaking of “bombing”, The Associated Press headlined this morning, “NKorea vows nuke attack if provoked by US” and followed with “SEOUL, South Korea — Punching their fists into the air and shouting "Let's crush them!" some 100,000 North Koreans packed Pyongyang's main square Thursday for an anti-U.S. rally as the communist regime promised a "fire shower of nuclear retaliation" for any American-led attack.”
“North Korean troops will respond to any sanctions or U.S. provocations with "an annihilating blow," one senior official vowed.”
Meantime, there will be “penumbral lunar eclipses” on the 7th of July and the 6th of August and a partial lunar eclipse on the 31st of Dec. The beginning and end of a penumbral eclipse is not visible to the eye. Shading cannot be detected until about 2/3 of the Moon's disk is immersed in the penumbra.
Eastern Canada and the USA will miss the eclipse entirely since the eclipse begins after moonset.
The eclipse that occurs on New Year's Eve is a minor one. It will be visible primarily from the Eastern Hemisphere.
Maybe the NASA blast in October will be visible from here… and we might get some early excitement courtesy of North Korea.
I wonder if the Nutwood Observatory is booked in October?