[meteorite-list] NASA Successfully Launches Lunar Impactor (LCROSS)
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2009 21:53:22 -0700 (PDT)
June 18, 2009
Grey Hautaluoma/Ashley Edwards
grey.hautaluoma-1 at nasa.gov, ashley.edwards-1 at nasa.gov
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
jonas.dino at nasa.gov
NASA SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHES LUNAR IMPACTOR
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA successfully launched the Lunar Crater
Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, Thursday on a mission
to search for water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the
moon's south pole. The satellite lifted off on an Atlas V rocket from
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 5:32 p.m. EDT, with a
companion mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.
LRO safely separated from LCROSS 45 minutes later. LCROSS then was
powered-up, and the mission operations team at NASA's Ames Research
Center at Moffett Field, Calif., performed system checks that
confirmed the spacecraft is fully functional.
LCROSS and its attached Centaur upper stage rocket separately will
collide with the moon at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 9, 2009,
creating a pair of debris plumes that will be analyzed for the
presence of water ice or water vapor, hydrocarbons and hydrated
materials. The spacecraft and Centaur are tentatively targeted to
impact the moon's south pole near the Cabeus region. The exact target
crater will be identified 30 days before impact, after considering
information collected by LRO, other spacecraft orbiting the moon, and
observatories on Earth.
"LCROSS has been the little mission that could," said Doug Cooke,
associate administrator for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission
Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We stand poised for
an amazing mission and possible answers to some very intriguing
questions about the moon."
The 1,290-pound LCROSS and 5,216-pound Centaur upper stage will
perform a swing-by maneuver of the moon around 6 a.m. on June 23 to
calibrate the satellite's science instruments and enter a long,
looping polar orbit around Earth and the moon. Each orbit will be
roughly perpendicular to the moon's orbit around Earth and take about
37 days to complete. Before impact, the spacecraft and Centaur will
make approximately three orbits.
On the final approach, about 54,000 miles above the surface, LCROSS
and the Centaur will separate. LCROSS will spin 180 degrees to turn
its science payload toward the moon and fire thrusters to slow down.
The spacecraft will observe the flash from the Centaur's impact and
fly through the debris plume. Data will be collected and streamed to
LCROSS mission operations for analysis. Four minutes later, LCROSS
also will impact, creating a second debris plume.
"This mission is the culmination of a dedicated team that had a great
idea," said Daniel Andrews, LCROSS project manager at Ames. "And now
we'll engage people around the world in looking at the moon and
thinking about our next steps there."
The LCROSS science team will lead a coordinated observation campaign
that includes LRO, the Hubble Space Telescope, observatories on
Hawaii's Mauna Kea and amateur astronomers around the world.
Ames manages LCROSS and also built the instrument payload. Northrop
Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif., built the spacecraft.
The LCROSS mission is providing updates via _at_LCROSS_NASA on Twitter.
To follow, visit:
For more information about the LCROSS mission, visit:
Received on Mon 22 Jun 2009 12:53:22 AM PDT