LCROSS to attack the Moon!

7 10 2009

So when I was in college, I had a professor named Dr. Eldridge who spent some time with Dr. Oppenheimer, and therefore said things in an odd way.  (Look, I don’t know if Oppenheimer had *anything* to do with Eldridge’s odd metaphors, but it adds to the story, ‘k?)  And when we would talk about the innards of the atom he would always say,  “Well, you know the best way to see what’s in your Christmas present.  Blast it with a shotgun and see what flies out.”  It was his way of explaining Rutherford’s gold foil experiment.  Or any other experiment involving subatomic particles.

Looks like NASA has taken his cue in looking for water on the moon.  This Friday, early morning, the American satellite LCROSS is going to slam into the southern side of the moon while scientists watch the resulting dust cloud for evidence of water.  The impact won’t (shouldn’t) be visible to the unaided eye, but perhaps a 10-in. scope can pick it out.

crash1

A computer visualization of LCROSS hitting the Moon on Oct. 9th. Credit: NASA/Ames

The impactor is huge!  At almost 5000 lbs, it’ll strike the moon with the energy of a small atomic bomb.  Shortly after, the booster rocket, which weighs in at 1500 lbs itself, will strike a short distance away.  There are a ton of websites with lots of good information about this all over the net.  This is a good place to start.  There’s information there for folks who’d like to observe or even submit images of the event as well.

And, just because it gives me yet another chance to post this image, here’s what it should look like through the right telescope.

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6 responses

7 10 2009
Jeremy

This is AWESOME!

The last time NASA did something like this – the Deep Impact mission – I was driving around west Pulaski County like a madman trying to find some dark skies so I could observe the comet. Alas, no fireworks to be had through my little scope.

This, however, could be a real show. I’ll be up for it!

Cheers,
Jeremy

7 10 2009
147horsepower

I just got this image:
“Alright, in early October we’re going to retire the LCROSS. Let’s set the splash down coordinates in the usual spot.”
“Wait! I’ve got a better idea. Let’s crash it into the moon!!”
“What? Why?”
” ’cause it’ll be awesome! And I guess we can get some info from the explosion.”
“… alright.”

9 10 2009
Jeremy

What happen!?!? We get signal?!?!

That was, as they say, not as advertised. I wasn’t expecting Michael Bay, but I’m worried now that they haven’t gotten any data from the impact…

Cheers,
Jeremy

9 10 2009
Infinitewell

Awww, For Great Justice!!!!

Where’s the ka-boom? There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering ka-boom!

9 10 2009
147horsepower

There’s a big ‘ol black spot on the moon today…

9 10 2009
Máire of the Lilies

No, no, no. The Earth-shattering ka-boom is caused by the Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator! LCROSS is something completely different, Marvin!

And as for the black spot… it’s not the same old thing as yesterday.

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