Scientists are hoping for a literal slam dunk with NASA's upcoming Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS mission — an event to be observed by a coordinated network of Earth and space-based equipment.Let the crashing begin! I just wish I could see it happen in real-time.
LCROSS will search for water ice on the moon on Friday morning by crashing its spent upper-stage Centaur rocket into Cabeus, a permanently sunlight-shy crater within the lunar south pole region. The impact is set for 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT).
That Centaur will serve as a heavy impactor on the moon, with scientists hoping a resulting debris plume will ascend above the moon's landscape. The intent is to toss tons of debris and potentially water ice and vapor high above the lunar surface.
As part of the LCROSS mission, along with the upper stage's "bang-up" job, a Shepherding Spacecraft will follow a similar trajectory of the Centaur, flying through and studying the Centaur impact plume before it too speeds into the lunar terrain.