Feeds

NASA moon-attack probe beams home first lunar shots

Next meeting won't be so friendly

High performance access to file storage

NASA's new lunar probe beamed home images from the far side of the moon early Tuesday as the spacecraft eased into position for slamming down on the surface this October.

The $79m Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) lifted off on June 18 along with its sister spacecraft, the $504m Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The two spacecraft separated shortly after launch.

This morning's 1-hour swing-by put LCROSS about 1,988 miles (3,200km) from the moon's surface and gave NASA boffins their chance to calibrate the spacecraft's cameras and spectrometers. LCROSS is now in an elongated polar Earth orbit that won't get it up close and personal with the moon until the day of impact, October 9.

LCROSS visible light shot, courtesy NASA

Attached to the Atlas V's empty Centaur rocket upper stage, LCROSS will spend the downtime being prepped for the "heavy impactor" mission. NASA predicts the impact will create debris plumes that will be analyzed for the presence of water ice, water vapor, hydrocarbons, and other materials.

"The successful completion of the LCROSS swingby proves the science instruments are functioning as expected. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire team" said Dan Andrews, LCROSS project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center in California "We are elated at the results from the maneuver and eagerly anticipate the impacts in early October."

LCROSS's instruments were tuned and calibrated by scanning three sites on the lunar surface; the craters Mendeleev, Goddard C and Giordano Bruno. The spots were selected because they offer a variety of terrain types, compositions and illumination conditions, NASA said. The spacecraft also scanned the lunar horizon to confirm everything was properly aligned to capture the Centaur's debris plume when it collides on the lunar surface shortly before the craft comes crashing down as well.

Meanwhile, LRO is set into orbit with the moon to begin its far-less suicidal mission of mapping out surface for potential landing sites, "potential resources," to characterize the radiation environment, and to test out all the cool devices NASA boffinry has devised since the agency's last unmanned lunar mission in 1998.

For lunar snoops at home, LCROSS's lunar swing-by provided live video stream coverage at about 2:20 pm GMT (6:20 am PDT). NASA says to check here for video playback later (once they finish editing out the Lizardman moon base, we're sure.) Also check out the LCROSS Twitter feed for NASA's bleeding-edge updates on the mission. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.