Thursday, 8 October 2009

Crash Test (Part II)

Tomorrow morning the moon will explode. Honest. Well, part of the surface will look like it's exploding. Why? Because NASA is flying something into it.

Remember this?

The time has come to say goodbye to LCROSS, the kamikaze partner to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. At around lunchtime tomorrow (GMT), you'll be able to spot - if you have superhuman eyesight or a telescope with a ten-inch mirror - a six-mile plume of moon dust and rock rising from the lunar regolith. This was always the plan; the idea is to try to find water (more water than Chandrayaan-1 found just a couple of weeks ago) in the moon's poles.

Centaur carried LCROSS to the moon and it will be the first of the exploratory pairing to dive into the moon's south pole. That's 2.4 tonnes travelling at 1.6 miles per second. The LCROSS probe will pass through the plume and analyse the data before hurling itself into the same crater just four minutes later.

They may find more water, they may not. If they do, we could be another giant step towards establishing a base on our rocky lunar neighbour.

No comments: