NASA’s LCROSS Reaches Target Tuesday

The Atlas V rocket with LRO and LCROSS aboard launched on June 18, 2009 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Atlas V rocket with LRO and LCROSS aboard launched on June 18, 2009 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite or LCROSS launched by NASA on June 18 with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will perform a flyby of the moon today and calibrate its instruments.  NASA is offering streaming video from the LCROSS today also.

The LCROSS’ mission is to search for traces of water on the moon.  On October 9, 2009, the LCROSS is scheduled to drop the satellite’s spent upper-stage Centaur rocket into a permanently shadowed crater near the south pole of the moon. The impact will send up a plume of material high above the moon’s surface, vaporizing any ice and exposing any traces of water. The plume of lunar debris should rise as high as six miles & be visible here on Earth, west of the Mississippi.  LCROSS will fly through the plume for four minutes, take measurements, send the data to Earth, then crash into the surface after the Centaur, creating a second plume of debris.

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