The race is on: India by 2020, China by 2025 - will the US get there at all?
Where am I now? Travelin' 1.18km/s(2646mph). 70,289km from the Moon. 19 hrs! RU Excited? I am! #lcross
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.
We're making another effort to find water on the moon. Beginning in 1964 with the Ranger spacecraft, we've been lobbing things at poor old Luna. Lately we've been trying to find water there so that future explorers don't have to haul the stuff up the gravity well from Earth. [more inside]
There's water on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Here's hoping space tourism can pick up the pace a little.