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Moon Space NASA Science

NASA To Trigger Massive Explosion On the Moon In Search of Ice 376

Posted by timothy
from the smashing-darling-smashing dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "NASA is preparing to launch the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, which will fly a Centaur rocket booster into the moon, triggering a six-mile-high explosion that scientists hope will confirm whether water is frozen in the perpetual darkness of craters near the moon's south pole. If the spacecraft launches on schedule at 12:51 p.m. Wednesday, it will hit the moon in the early morning hours of October 8 after an 86-day Lunar Gravity-Assist, Lunar Return Orbit that will allow the spacecraft time to complete its two-month commissioning phase and conduct nearly a month of science data collection of polar crater measurements before colliding with the moon just 10 minutes behind the Centaur." (Continues, below.)
"The cloud from the Centaur rocket booster will kick up 350 metric tons of debris that should spread six miles above the surface of the moon, hitting the sunlight and making it visible to amateur astronomers across North America. Over the final four minutes of its existence, as LCROSS follows the same terminal trajectory as the Centaur, the spacecraft will train its instruments and cameras on the debris cloud, searching it for the chemical signature of water. Previous spacecraft and ground-based instruments have detected signs of hydrogen near the moon's poles, and scientists are split over whether that is from ice that could have arrived through the impact of comets or by other means. Despite all the serious scientific talk about hydrogen signatures and lunar regolith, flying a rocket booster into the moon at 5,600 mph to trigger a massive explosion is just flat-out cool. 'We're certainly going to be making a big splash,' says Kimberly Ennico, the LCROSS payload scientist. 'We're going to see something, but I don't know what to expect. I know on the night of the impact, I'll be running on adrenaline.'"
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NASA To Trigger Massive Explosion On the Moon In Search of Ice

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  • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ionix5891 (1228718) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:17AM (#28348795)

    well as long as it doesn't say Coca-Cola on the moon..

  • WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by No2Gates (239823) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:18AM (#28348817)

    We are in a financial crisis, and the government wants to see if there is ice on the moon? There's plenty on this planet. I can make some for you in my freezer and you can save 20 billion dollars.

  • by PotatoFarmer (1250696) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:22AM (#28348885)
    Unless one of those halves goes spinning off somewhere, why would the gravitational pull radically change? It's still the same mass in the same relative position. It would have to be one hell of an explosion to nudge half the moon out of orbit.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by synth7 (311220) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:32AM (#28349079) Homepage

    We are in a financial crisis, and the government wants to see if there is ice on the moon? There's plenty on this planet. I can make some for you in my freezer and you can save 20 billion dollars.

    Why do you hate science? And, no, I'm not being facetious. Humanity is reaching a potential ceiling on this planet's resources, and you deride efforts to determine whether we can ever get off this rock and sustain ourselves?

  • Re:Raping the moon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by raddan (519638) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:33AM (#28349089)
    Since Satya Harvey is listed as the "SF Astrology Examiner" I think it is likely that she is serious. She also posted a follow up [examiner.com].

    In her follow-up, she explains that she does not think that science is the only way that knowledge is revealed to people. She is entitled to her opinion, of course, but that does not mean that we have to agree with or respect it. The beauty of science is that it is something of an amorphous blob. If it turns out that astrology does reveal things about the universe that current science cannot observe, science will hungrily scoop it up and make it a part of itself.
  • by scottj31 (637960) <sjrobin@illinois.edu> on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:33AM (#28349091) Homepage
    They are preparing, apparently, for when we have blown everything up here and need somewhere else to go. But actually I think this is part of NASA's 'constant contact' plan, like the election, when McCain kept saying outrageous stuff just to keep himself in the news. I have been leery of NASA since they did their horrendously offensive dog-and-pony show about the Martian meteorite/life on Mars thing. Does the moon belong to us? Do we have the right to blow it up? It seems like an expensive schoolboy stunt.
  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:34AM (#28349123)

    ZOMG!!!! A massive explosion!!! A six mile high explosion!!!!

    Or would that actually be a very, very modest explosion (especially in astronomical terms) triggering a six mile high debris plume?

  • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tizan (925212) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:52AM (#28349453)
    The world is always in a crisis ...you do realize that most of the world is in poverty ....so did that stop us from doing science, plays, movies, theaters, art, sports So why stop now ...because a few people made stupid investments in companies run by more stupid people ?
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AmigaMMC (1103025) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:03PM (#28349655)
    That's not trolling, that's a proper intelligent reply to the usual " we have a financial crisis we should stop breathing to save air"
  • Re:Raping the moon (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:17PM (#28349911)

    Ok, she says that to speak with the Moon you just need to quiet your mind and ask it a question. I'll give it a shot. ......

    Ok, the answer that I got is that the Moon is actually a guy named Bruce who prides himself on being tough. He told me that we should "bring it on" and that he doubts we'd even be able to tickle him. So I think we're good to go.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thraxen (455388) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @12:18PM (#28349941)

    The mission will supposedly cost $78 million. A lot of money to the average person... but a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions we're wasting on needless wars and bailing out failed banks and automotive companies. Guess which I think is being better spent?

  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gilmoure (18428) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:04PM (#28350813) Journal

    Isn't that money being spent on stuff made in the U.S. and paid out to U.S. citizens and workers? It's not a free cash dispersal but this way, it's getting spread among a lot of vendors and suppliers as well as the folks at NASA.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:17PM (#28351033)

    What do you think they're using that 79M on? Ultimately, it's paying mostly for work and raw materials. But as far as results go, a space program is more valuable than some make-work project that's just intended to spread money around.

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:54PM (#28352535)

    Shit crashes into astronomical bodies all the time, especially when that body has no atmosphere. But your comment about multiple quantities actually hits close to home for my biggest concern about this experiment. We are supposedly doing this to look for water in a very specific location on a water-scarce body - the moon. Even if this explosion is successful and a detectable plume of water vapour is ejected into space, we will not have proved that there is water at the north pole of the moon - we will only have proved that there was water at the north pole of the moon, before we sent a projectile hurtling into the ground there.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." -- Hunter S. Thompson

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