Feeds

NASA fingers crash site for moon-impacting probe

'A nice flat, fluffy place'

Build a business case: developing custom apps

NASA found the ideal spot to crash its moon-impacting probe this October.

The mission team announced Friday that Cabeus A will be the target crater for the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and its spent Centaur rocket. The permanently-shadowed crater at the lunar south pole was selected for its flat floor, gentle slopes, high concentration of hydrogen, and proper visibility of the wreckage from Earth.

Scientists will be observing the resulting debris plumes hurled into the sunlight to determine if water ice exists at the lunar south pole.

"We want to hit a nice flat, fluffy place. The more flat and fluffy it is, the more material gets thrown up in a very predictable way," said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS principle investigator during a press conference at NASA's Ames Research Center in California.

On October 9, LCROSS will send its upper-stage Centaur rocket and a shepherding spacecraft smashing into the lunar crater. LCROSS will then perform a braking maneuver, collect data on the impact flash and debris plume, then collide with the lunar surface itself.

Many scientists on Earth will also be observing the impacts to maximize its scientific return. Observatories scheduled to be be locked on to LCROSS's final destination include the newly refurbished Hubble, the Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, the Magdalena Ridge Observatory in New Mexico, and the MMT Observatory in Arizona.

The LCROSS team also encourages amateur astronomers to keep an eye out.

"We expect the LCROSS impacts to be observable in 10- to 12-inch telescopes, so we are actively soliciting observations from the amateur community," said Jennifer Heldmann, lead for the LCROSS observation campaign. "We're encouraging folks to go in their back yard, planetariums, science centers – collect observations of the impact, and then send those to NASA."

Heldmann said the mission team will presently be launching a "citizens science website" where amateur astronomers can submit their observations.

LCROSS project manager Daniel Andrews provided a mission update, saying the probe still has enough fuel to successfully accomplish all its mission objectives after last month's mishap. In late August, LCROSS had a technical glitch that caused nearly all its maneuvering fuel reserves to be used up. The LCROSS team has since been retuning the probe's control system to sip on the remaining fuel throughout the rest of the mission.

During the briefing, Andrews also announced the LCROSS mission is being dedicated to the memory of American broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite, who died this July. NASA said it wanted to honor the famed news anchor for providing coverage of NASA's missions from the beginning of the US manned space program to when shuttle launches became commonplace. Chip Cronkite, his son, spoke briefly at the conference.

"Dad would sure be proud to be part, if just in name, of getting humans back up to the moon and beyond," he said.

Additional images and videos of the Cabeus A crater are available here. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.