Ever wonder if there is water on the moon?
In fact, NASA is so curious that it’s going to “bomb” the moon tomorrow morning in hopes of creating a debris cloud that can be analyzed for water content.
NASA will use the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that it launched earlier this summer. Tomorrow, the LRO –which is now positioned for impact on a lunar pole –will separate into two parts, sending its Atlas V’s Centaur upper stage rocket towards the moon.
The impact of the Centaur will create a debris plume predicted to rise above the lunar surface. Four minutes later, the shepherding spacecraft will fly through the debris plume, collecting and relaying data back to Earth before it, too, impacts the lunar surface and creating a second debris plume.
Here’s a video with animation that helps explain the mission:
Projected first impact at the lunar South Pole is currently: Friday, Oct 9, 2009 at 7:31 am EDT (4:30 a.m. PDT).
NASA says the debris plumes are expected to be visible from Earth- and space-based telescopes 10-to-12 inches and larger.
In addition, a NASA TV Broadcast is planned for the LCROSS impacts starting at 6:15 a.m. EDT/3:15 a.m. PDT, Oct. 9, on NASA TV and www.nasa.gov/ntv.
The 1.5 hour broadcast includes:
• Live footage from spacecraft camera
• Real-time telemetry based animation
• Views of LCROSS Mission and Science Operations
• Broadcast commentary with expert guests
• Prepared video segments
• Views of the public impact viewing event at NASA Ames
• Possible live footage from the University of Hawaii, 88-inch telescope on Mauna Kea.
The live LCROSS Post-Impact News Conference will be 10 a.m. EDT/7 a.m. PDT on NASA TV and www.nasa.gov/ntv.