1 October 2009
Think I’m joking?
Nope. Not only that, but if you have a 12 inch diameter telescope, you can see the explosion from your backyard. No I’m not smoking some weed, and if YOU are, why aren’t you sharing??
I digress 😉
Now anything of this magnitude by NASA, and you just know they have to have some acronym for it right?
They do. LCROSS
It stands for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite. The reason for this is to find out of there is water on the Moon. If so, it would be deep in a crater at the Lunar South or North Pole. Deep craters there have not seen sunlight in a billion years. The latest research indicated that temps. there may be just 35 Kelvin. That is 35 degrees above absolute zero.
What happens at absolute zero?
Molecular motion stops, hell freezes over, and the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. (and Tottenham wins the Premier League title!)
Why do we care if there is ice there? If we want to go to the Moon and stay awhile, it would be nice to drink water while there, and breathe every once and awhile. It would be even better if we had rocket fuel to get home in time to see the Cubs in game 7. (and Tottenham in the final at Wembley!)
Water is H2O. Hydrogen for fuel, water to drink, and Oxygen to breathe. You did pay attention in High School Chemistry right? Yea, a really cute girl sat right beside me too.
So how do we find out, and do it cheaply?
Easy. Well, kinda easy…
We launch a satellite into orbit around the Earth and Moon. We aim it so that it will hit the South pole of the Moon. Oh, but let’s do this too. Let’s separate our satellite from the rocket stage that carried us up and then slow down slightly so that the booster hits the moon about 4 minutes before the satellite does!
Top it all off with a live colour camera on the LCROSS satellite, and add some special sensors to detect water/ice. Otherwise, people might complain we made all this up just to blow a hole in the moon and watch it from Earth. Some taxpayers have no sense of humor.
When the booster hits at 3 km/second speed, there will be a huge explosion. Visible from Earth if you have a 12 inch scope and maybe even with smaller ones! Then our doomed LCROSS satellite will fly into the debris cloud 4 minutes later and hopefully detect ice!
Who says Science is boring?
This is going to be big news very soon, but I thought I would tell you about it first, since the networks don’t have a stellar record in Science reporting. That said, CBS, and the BBC are usually good exceptions.
Many observatories around the World will open their doors to provide live views of this event on October 9th. The impact will happen around 6:30 am Central USA time. Europe will not see the Moon at that hour, but you can watch it on TV, since LCROSS has that live video camera!
Update: You can see a live feed of the impact on SLOOH. If you do not know about SLOOH, this is a good time to find out!