In an unprecedented scientific endeavor, NASA is preparing to fly a rocket booster into the moon, triggering a six-mile-high explosion that scientists hope will confirm the presence of water. Many newsgroups on the matter of space exploration and have been active on the topic.
NASA related newsgroups in particular have reported that NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Spacecraft (LCROSS) will launch atop the same Atlas V rocket scheduled to launch later this week. Four days following launch, LCROSS will guide an empty upper stage on a collision course with a permanently shaded crater in an effort to find evidence of water at the moon’s poles. LCROSS itself will also impact the lunar surface during its course of study. The search for water ice in permanently shaded craters at the moon’s poles will be a principal objective of the mission.
There have been discussions and debates over the years on many space related newsgroups as to whether there is frozen water on the moon or not. Soon two NASA spacecraft, a lunar spycraft and a kamikaze probe, will help answer the question by peering into the permanent darkness of craters at the moon’s south pole.
Controversial evidence for whether there is water on the moon began appearing in 1996 on NASA related newsgroups with the Clementine probe, a joint Pentagon-NASA project. Radar scans of the lunar surface reflected back the kind of signals at the south pole that one might expect of ice and other frozen compounds.
However, pointed out in discussions on space exploration newsgroups regarding later studies using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico revealed similar reflections “even from areas exposed to sunlight, places too warm for water ice to survive”. This suggested the reflections that Clementine saw might have come not from water but from piles of rocks.
The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, built by Northrop Grumman Corporation for NASA Ames Research Center, is scheduled for launch on June 17 at approximately 4PM EDT, from Launch Pad 41 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. LCROSS will be launched with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on an Atlas V rocket.
Orbital properties will make analysis of Chandrayaan data from the south pole, where NASA is contemplating planting a lunar outpost that could use water ice as a resource, which will be even trickier until more time has passed.