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NASA ready to hit the moon in search for water - and you can watch

WaterWebster.org Staff Report

October 5, 2009

 

Grab your telescope or turn on your computer. Either way, you can watch when NASA satellites crash into the moon Friday night in search of water.

NASA's Centaur booster rocket, followed by the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) are scheduled to hit the Cabeus crater near the Moon's south pole Oct. 9 in a two-part planned crash. To watch, click on NASA TV on your computer at 10:15 UT (6:15 a.m. EDT) or set up your telescope in the backyard.

"We expect the debris plumes to be visible through mid-sized backyard telescopes—10 inches and larger," said Brian Day of NASA/Ames, according to a NASA news release. Day is an amateur astronomer and the Education and Public Outreach Lead for LCROSS. "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."

NASA's live broadcast from the moon will show the Centaur rocket as it hits the Moon's surface, sending up a debris plume that spectrometers on the LCROSS mothership will analyze for signs of water, water fragments, salts, clays, hydrated minerals and assorted organic molecules, the NASA release said.

"If there's water there, or anything else interesting, we'll find it," said Tony Colaprete of NASA Ames, the mission's principal investigator.

Four minutes after the Centaur rocket crashes, the LCROSS satellite will hit nearby, creating a second, smaller debris plume.

The Hubble Space Telescope, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and, NASA said, hundreds of telescopes great and small on Earth will scrutinize the two plumes, looking for signs of water and the unexpected.

For more information, maps and educational information, visit the NASA-LCROSS Viewer's Guide.

 

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