NASA'S NEW MOON MISSION: LCROSS HITS ITS MARK!
[PHOTO AT LEFT - This image shows the moon's south pole, as seen by the 1994 Clementine mission. The possibility of frozen water is one of many reasons NASA is interested in thisspot as a potential future landing site. However, many of the craters in this area where frozen water sources are most likely to be found are in constant shadow, which inhibited Clementine's ability to see into these craters. These shadows are the very dark areas at the pole's center. The upcoming Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission will study this area and search for evidence of frozen water sources. Credit: NASA]
NASA SPACE CENTER, OCTOBER 11, 2009 (NASA Web site) At impact, a flash or large plume wasn't visible with the LCROSS camera, but even though we didnít see it doesn't mean it wasn't there.
The LCROSS mission operations team initiated power-up of the LCROSS science payload and captured this image of the moon shown
in photo above.
Mission scientists confirmed the LCROSS spacecraft monitored whatever the Centaur rocket lifted from the crater floor. At this time, it isn't yet clear how much dust was raised but LCROSS Principal Investigator Tony Colaprete did confirm that the instruments onboard the sheparding spacecraft captured the Centaur impact crater.
Now mission scientists need more time to study the data. In the next few weeks, scientists will pore over the information to determine if water ice does exist in the Cabeus crater.
To stay up to date, be sure to follow the LCROSS website, the LCROSS twitter feed, and its Facebook page, URL below:
Permalink 1 Comments Impact from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's Line of Sight Posted on Oct 08, 2009 09:36:49 AM | _ NASA's New Moon Missions Scientist and engineers are adjusting LRO's orbit to have it fly its closest approach to the Cabeus target site just 90 seconds after the Centaur impacts the lunar surface.
[Photo at left - Artist Concept of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter with Apollo mission imagery in the background. Credit: NASA
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, better known as LRO, was a sister payload to LCROSS during launch and now the orbiter will pass over the moon at just the right time to capture the Centaur impact to collect key data about the physics of the impact and how volatile materials may have been mobilized.
During and after impact LRO's LAMP far UV spectrometer will search for evidence of significant water ice or water signatures and how they evolve in the moon's atmosphere. LRO's Diviner radiometer will peer into the impact site to measure the heating effects caused by impact and how the temperature changes over time. LRO will continue to study the impact site using its suite of instruments long after the dust settles.
A Personal Perspective
By David A. Paige, principal investigator Diviner
(Diviner is one of the seven instruments aboard LRO)
We on the LRO Diviner team are looking forward to the LCROSS impact with great anticipation. It's not every day that we will have an opportunity to excavate a significant volume of material from one of the moon's permanently shadowed polar cold traps. We expect that a new lunar impact crater will form, and that dust, rock, and possibly cold-trapped volatile materials such as water ice will be thrown into space.
Everything we learn about the LCROSS impact will come from Earth observations and from observations from nearby spacecraft. Diviner will get excellent views of the impact site as LRO flies by. We intend to make maps of the radiometric temperature of the impact site before and after the impact, as well as observations of the dust plume that will be lofted during the impact event. Diviner's observations may help confirm the location of the LCROSS impact, and its effects on the impact on the surrounding terrain. Diviner has already mapped the impact site on previous orbits and so any changes that are detected will be of great interest. We have no idea what LCROSS will uncover, but we're anxious to know the results.
(PHOTO AT LEFT - Diviner has acquired the first global daytime and nighttime thermal maps of the moon. These maps were assembled using Diviner data obtained during August and the first half of September, 2009. Credit: NASA/GSFC/UCLA
Hopefully, everything will go well for LCROSS and LRO on Friday morning and we'll learn something new and exciting about the moon!
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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