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Where am I now? Travelin' 1.18km/s(2646mph). 70,289km from the Moon. 19 hrs! RU Excited? I am! #lcross
October 8, 2009 10:55 AM   Subscribe

On October 9th, NASA spacecraft will run into the moon, and on purpose. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and its rocket's Centaur upper stage will impact the moon, with the goal of sending some of the (possibly present) ice above the lunar surface. Once out of the eternal shade of the moon's south pole, sunlight will break the ice up into H+ and OH- molecules, which can be detected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The initial impact site was the crater Cabeus A, but the target was later changed to Cabeus (proper), selected for highest hydrogen concentrations with the greatest level of certainty, and for the high-contrast back drop to detect ejecta and vapor measurements. NASA has provided guides for amateur observations of the impact, a facebook group, and a Twitter feed so you don't miss the moment.
posted by filthy light thief (53 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
For posterity, here's a direct link to title tweet.

Moon ice previously: Future moon base sited, Water on earth's moon?, Water, water, anywhere?

Lunar recon. orbiter previously: "Bang, zoom, straight to the moon!", "I think Isaac Newton is doing most of the driving now."
posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on October 8, 2009


I meant to do that! That was me! My bad! Ooh - that's gonna leave a mark.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:58 AM on October 8, 2009


WE ARE GOING TO BLOW UP THE MOON
posted by mathowie at 10:59 AM on October 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


CHA
posted by The Whelk at 11:04 AM on October 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


The Whelk beat me to it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:05 AM on October 8, 2009


The ultimate act of vandalism: I will write my name across the face of the moon!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:05 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


So once we discover water on the Moon, we can start using it to irrigate our golf courses, yeah?
posted by Joe Beese at 11:12 AM on October 8, 2009


A little explosion on the moon never harmed anyone...
posted by GuyZero at 11:14 AM on October 8, 2009


This is so cool. I was looking forward to a post about it.

Apparently the Centaur stage will hit at about 2.5 km a second. If I've worked it out right, that'll be the same energy as about a tonne and a half of TNT, almost as much as the stage itself weighs.

There's even a song!
Water on the Moon - written by LCROSS Deputy Project Manager John Marmie.
posted by lucidium at 11:19 AM on October 8, 2009


YOU GUYS SOCK
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jesus H. Christ, Houston, we're on the fucking moon, over...
posted by not_on_display at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


19 hrs! RU Excited? I am!

Just 19 hrs 'til I die in a hrbl fry xplsn! RU Excited? I am!

I'm sure it's just me, but the first-person Twitter stream of this poor, sacrificial spacecraft is somehow creeping me out.
posted by The Bellman at 11:36 AM on October 8, 2009


I'm really glad we didn't have Twitter back when the Challenger broke apart.

"RT @Feynman u ever c what cold does to rubber? lol!"
posted by bondcliff at 11:43 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


We're earthlings, we should blow up earth things!
posted by dhammond at 12:09 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


not_on_display, if nothing else, your video provided me with the proof that the moon landing was faked, thanks to YouTube user "gutnick" - I knew it was fake. Every woman knows it was fake when he landed and didn't moon the camera!

lucidium - that was ... interesting. Like a modern rendition of a 1980s soft rock for Christ ballad. I was really hoping it would have been a geeky Weird Al-like parody of Walking on the Sun.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:16 PM on October 8, 2009


There may be water on the moon.

NukeImpact it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by DU at 12:22 PM on October 8, 2009


YOU GUYS SOCK
posted by A dead Quaker at 12:29 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Haha watch this puny mythbusters NASA
posted by Free word order! at 12:31 PM on October 8, 2009


It is rocket science.
posted by davebush at 12:44 PM on October 8, 2009


man, it only took 10 minutes for both of my youtube moon references to be stolen from under me by other people. damn it.
posted by shmegegge at 12:48 PM on October 8, 2009


I'm sure it's just me, but the first-person Twitter stream of this poor, sacrificial spacecraft is somehow creeping me out.

I'M IN UR ORBITZ, AIMIN 4 UR HED
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:04 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


"And wow! Hey! What's this thing coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding word like... ow... ound... round... ground! That's it! That's a good name - ground! I wonder if it will be friends with me."
posted by tresbizzare at 1:06 PM on October 8, 2009


Yes! In fact, this IS rocket science.

I so want to try to see this with the telescopes I've been putting together, but I've gotten lazy, and it's late at night, so I'll be looking forward to videos tomorrow.
posted by quin at 1:19 PM on October 8, 2009


You know how we lost a couple Mars landers because various malfunctions and Murphy manifestations caused them to crash instead of land softly?

For symmetry's sake, a series of fluke accidents should make these land softly instead of crashing.
posted by Drastic at 1:36 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Everyone knows there is water on the moon cause there are whalers on the moon.

They carry a harpoon.
posted by The Whelk at 1:49 PM on October 8, 2009


but there are no whales!
posted by explosion at 1:50 PM on October 8, 2009


but they sing a whaling tune.
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on October 8, 2009


Isn't this how "Space 1999" started? The moon going out of orbit? I feel bad for all those surfers. No more tides. Sad face.
posted by raising_arizona at 3:07 PM on October 8, 2009


The city of Boston finally gets its revenge.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:08 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amy Ephron is worried. On her Huffington post blog she asks "Just who gave them permission?"
posted by longsleeves at 3:08 PM on October 8, 2009


I did.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:28 PM on October 8, 2009


Having read the comments attached to the HuffPo articles I've seen, I can't tell if Amy Ephron is actually serious. There are people actually seriously up in arms because NASA is "bombing" the Moon. It's like a right-wing parody of liberal pacifists.
posted by dirigibleman at 4:04 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the Amy Ephron artilce: "I could say something scientifically lame and ask, "What if it gets thrown off its axis?" or something funny and suggest something (that I actually sort of believe), like, "What if it somehow throws off the astrology?" ... -- sending the solar system out of balance.

You mean like the millions of asteroids that struck it previously did? I think she doesn't quite grasp the physics of this.
posted by Nauip at 4:06 PM on October 8, 2009


The stupid is strong with this one.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:13 PM on October 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


That Amy sure is a hoot.
I could say something scientifically lame and ask, "What if it gets thrown off its axis?" or something funny and suggest something (that I actually sort of believe), like, "What if it somehow throws off the astrology?" Or that we're not risking -- as we have the earth with continued experiments of this kind -- sending the solar system out of balance.
So throwing the moon off it's axis is scientifically lame, yet your astrological fears are both funny and believable? Or perhaps this could "send the solar system out of balance"? Interesting, tell me more of your logical and illogical fears and concerns.
I'm not a big fan of explosions, anyway. In Iraq or Afghanistan or the South Pole of the Moon. But who does have a territorial prerogative there?
From the first search result (Law School Chronicles) for territorial rights on the moon refers to the UN Outer Space Treaty, which states:
There shall be freedom of scientific investigation in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and States shall facilitate and encourage international co-operation in such investigation. (source, more language and format options)
The treaty goes on to say that if any state is planning on doing something that will cause harm to others, that state "shall undertake appropriate international consultations before proceeding with any such activity or experiment."
posted by filthy light thief at 4:35 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who wrote “The Moon Rulez #1” on MY FRICKIN CAR?!
posted by AaronRaphael at 4:56 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Gizmodo has more on "How to Watch the Moon Bombing In Real Time".

Conversely, you can join Amy Ephron's cause and help save the moon through tweets (or something). Truth be told, that twitterfeed has some good links to watch the "moon bombing" from various sources:

- 2 views of LIVE coverage starting 6:40 pm PDT (01:40 am UTC), from NASA
- NASA TV, via Sky and Telescope
- Watch the impact in New Hampshire at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
- Friday at 5 AM - Come to Fiske Planetarium for the Lunar Bagel Breakfast to watch LCROSS impact the moon (University of Colorado at Boulder)
- Watch live in India, at the Nehru Planetarium
- Moon bombing preview and play a moon targeting flash game on HuffPo
posted by filthy light thief at 5:14 PM on October 8, 2009


Wait, how can they crash into the moon after this happened?
posted by FishBike at 5:28 PM on October 8, 2009


I'm sure it's just me, but the first-person Twitter stream of this poor, sacrificial spacecraft is somehow creeping me out.

It's not just you, The Bellman.

Because although it's totally irrational and non-factual, I nevertheless often find myself feeling that machines have some kind of soul. And even though I know the twitter feed is a thing made up by people, and not the actual machine talking to us... I cannot entirely stop imagining this brave little spacecraft hurtling towards its death, and it knows it.

Stupid, right?

Ya done good, little guy.
posted by FishBike at 5:41 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


What, no references to Alexander Abian (kibo.com link). And, on yt, an interview
posted by oonh at 7:12 PM on October 8, 2009


The explosion will be of extraordinary magnitude.
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:13 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do these idiots realize we've been crashing stuff into the Moon, both accidentally and on purpose, since the dawn of the space age?
posted by bondcliff at 8:14 PM on October 8, 2009


Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an moon-shattering kaboom!"
posted by kirkaracha at 8:36 PM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


5 mins to impact.
posted by dhruva at 4:28 AM on October 9, 2009


We can put a man on the moon but we can't build a server that can handle heavy traffic.
posted by vapidave at 4:31 AM on October 9, 2009


hmmm...no kaboom as far as I can tell. Like the NASA TV commentator said, not sure what I saw on the feed.
posted by dhruva at 4:39 AM on October 9, 2009


I admit I am a little disappointed that they didn't name the bomb-module the USS Slim Pickens.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:40 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I admit I am a little disappointed that they didn't name the bomb-module the USS Slim Pickens.

I was disappointed they didn't officially name it "Sperm Whale"
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:00 AM on October 9, 2009


Hi Five!
posted by smackfu at 8:15 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, the site of impact looks awfully like a giant paw print. If this isn't evidence of the presence giant alien teddybears on the Moon, then I don't know what is.
posted by daniel_charms at 9:21 AM on October 9, 2009


I haven't seen anywhere listed what the actual end goal of this mission is. I mean, if we get water out of it, cool--but what's the point of it, apart from academic wankery?
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:45 AM on October 9, 2009


I haven't seen anywhere listed what the actual end goal of this mission is. I mean, if we get water out of it, cool--but what's the point of it, apart from academic wankery?

If there's water on the moon, and it's relatively easy to get at, then that is a valuable resource that could be relied upon in the future, rather than having to transport it from the earth. For instance, when contemplating manned visits to the moon, or even a long-term human presence there, it would be nice if drinking water could be supplied locally, as well as oxygen (available by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen).

Getting really ambitious, it's easier to launch rockets from the moon than from the earth, and if you split water into hydrogen and oxygen, you've got good rocket propellants. It would be nice not to have to bring propellants from earth, since that's most of the weight of any rocket. You also get potentially useful gasses to help you build a big rocket on the moon (hydrogen/oxygen welding torches).

Sure, this is all distant-future and highly optimistic kind of stuff. This mission is about addressing the very first part, the "if there's water on the moon" part. The rest is just a few of the reasons why it might be useful to know if there is.
posted by FishBike at 12:20 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


wow...
posted by stillhopeful at 8:04 PM on October 18, 2009


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