NASA Spacecraft Impacts Lunar Crater in Search for Water Ice

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MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing
Satellite, or LCROSS, created twin impacts on the moon's surface
early Friday in a search for water ice. Scientists will analyze data
from the spacecraft's instruments to assess whether water ice is

The satellite traveled 5.6 million miles during an historic 113-day
mission that ended in the Cabeus crater, a permanently shadowed
region near the moon's south pole. The spacecraft was launched June
18 as a companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from
NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"The LCROSS science instruments worked exceedingly well and returned a
wealth of data that will greatly improve our understanding of our
closest celestial neighbor," said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS principal
investigator and project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in
Moffett Field, Calif. "The team is excited to dive into data."

In preparation for impact, LCROSS and its spent Centaur upper stage
rocket separated about 54,000 miles above the surface of the moon on
Thursday at approximately 6:50 p.m. PDT.

Moving at a speed of more than 1.5 miles per second, the Centaur hit
the lunar surface shortly after 4:31 a.m. Oct. 9, creating an impact
that instruments aboard LCROSS observed for approximately four
minutes. LCROSS then impacted the surface at approximately 4:36 a.m.

"This is a great day for science and exploration," said Doug Cooke,
associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission
Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The LCROSS data
should prove to be an impressive addition to the tremendous leaps in
knowledge about the moon that have been achieved in recent weeks. I
want to congratulate the LCROSS team for their tremendous achievement
in development of this low cost spacecraft and for their perseverance
through a number of difficult technical and operational challenges."‪

Other observatories reported capturing both impacts. The data will be
shared with the LCROSS science team for analysis. The LCROSS team
expects it to take several weeks of analysis before it can make a
definitive assessment of the presence or absence of water ice.

"I am very proud of the success of this LCROSS mission team," said
Daniel Andrews, LCROSS project manager at Ames. "Whenever this team
would hit a roadblock, it conceived a clever work-around allowing us
to push forward with a successful mission."

The images and video collected by the amateur astronomer community and
the public also will be used to enhance our knowledge about the moon.

"One of the early goals of the mission was to get as many people to
look at the LCROSS impacts in as many ways possible, and we
succeeded," said Jennifer Heldmann, Ames' coordinator of the LCROSS
observation campaign. "The amount of corroborated information that
can be pulled out of this one event is fascinating."

"It has been an incredible journey since LCROSS was selected in April
2006," said Andrews. "The LCROSS Project faced a very ambitious
schedule and an uncommonly small budget for a mission of this size.
LCROSS could be a model for how small robotic missions are executed.
This is truly big science on a small budget."

For more information about the LCROSS mission, including images and
video, visit:


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