NASA moon rocket due to land at 4:30 a.m.
on October 8, 2009
As you read this a satellite is rocketing at 2,668 mph on a one-way trip to the moon. Early Friday morning, NASA scientists plan to drive two pieces of the satellite into the surface of the moon to look for signs of water.
At approximately 4:30 a.m. PST on Friday, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and a Centaur rocket will hurl into the surface of the moon while the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) watches from orbit. The probe’s twin impacts will kick up two giant dust clouds that should be visible via telescope from Earth. Using the LRO, the Hubble Space Telescope and hundreds of other terrestrial telescopes, scientists will analyze the plumes for signs of water molecules amid the lunar dust.
Last month, NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3 detected water ice on the surface of the moon’s polar regions. Confirmation from the LCROSS impacts could prove to be a major breakthrough in our understanding of our nearest neighbor and the solar system.
NASA scientists say that most mid-size (10-inch and larger) telescopes should be able to observe the plumes. Watchers along the Pacific Coast and in Hawaii will have an especially good view.
Starting at 3 a.m. on Friday, the Chabot Space and Science Center will point their own 36-inch telescope, Nellie, toward the moon to observe the collisions. They will also broadcast a special live feed from NASA TV in the center’s planetarium.
If you can’t make it to Chabot Center tonight, a live NASA TV Broadcast is planned for the LCROSS impacts starting at 6:15 a.m. EDT/3:15 a.m PDT on NASA TV.
You can also follow the satellite’s final tweets to earth at twitter.com/Lcross_Nasa
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