Target Set for LCROSS

Although the bi-static radar experiment to look for water ice in the polar crater on the Moon failed due to the dying Chandrayaan-1 probe, we still have not yet used up all our cards – we still have LCROSS.

On this coming October 9, NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will smack into a permanently shadowed crater on our Moon’s pole to look for hidden water ice – the target is the 48-km wide crater Cabeus A, located at 82.2 degree south and 39.1 degree west.

LCROSS will first send its spent upper-stage Centaur rocket into the crater to kick up some debris. Then it will fly into this plume of debris and measure the plume’s properties before it itself also impact the same spot. The analysis of the plume hopefully will contain signs of elusive water.

Moon-SouthPole

Click here and scroll down to the end for video animation showing the location of the Cabeus A crater.

“The selection of Cabeus A was a result of a vigorous debate within the lunar science community that included review of the latest data from Earth-based observatories and our fellow lunar missions Kaguya, Chandrayaan-1, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter,” said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principle investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Cabeus A was selected based of a set of conditions such as favorable illumination of the debris plume for visibility from Earth, where we will be watching closely. Cabeus A also has a high concentration of hydrogen (a constituent of water, H2O) and favorable terrain such as a flat floor, gentle slopes and the absence of large boulders.

Can we amateur see the plume? Not me… my telescope is too small… but scientist estimated that the impact plume may be visible through telescope as small as 10 to 12 inches and above. If you have a telescope this big and would like to join in monitoring the impact, then visit the LCROSS_Observation group for participation in the LCROSS Amateur Observation Campaign.

Source: Science@NASA

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~ by thChieh on September 15, 2009.

One Response to “Target Set for LCROSS”

  1. […] I wrote about this last month, the target crater was Cabeus A. But on September 29, the team announced that they have shifted the […]

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