Countdown to Impact – LCROSS in Ashland, Oregon Oct 8, 2009

(From our friends at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland Oregon)

ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland announces an exciting preview of NASA’s upcoming lunar crash landing. NASA will steer the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) into the moon to search for signs of water in a towering plume of dust raised by the crash. The ScienceWorks preview of the impact, illustrated with NASA mission video and new lunar images, will be held October 8th, 7:00-8:00 p.m. in the ScienceWorks auditorium. Admission for the event is free.

The mission objectives of the LCROSS crash include detecting the presence of ancient water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the Moon’s South Pole. The presence of water is vital to the future of human exploration and colonization of the Moon. LCROSS will excavate the permanently dark floor of one of the Moon’s polar craters with two heavy impactors. The impacts will eject material from the crater’s surface to create a plume that instruments will analyze for the presence of water, hydrocarbons and hydrated materials.

The Centaur upper stage of the launch rocket will crash in to crater Cabeus A, at the lunar south pole, at approximately 4:30 a.m., October 9th. After observing the impact at close range, LCROSS itself will crash a few minutes later in the same area. The impact site itself will be in darkness but the ejecta plume, predicted to be 6 miles in height, will launch into sunlight.

The impact will be observed by several space-based observatories, including the newly refurbished Hubble Space Telescope and LCROSS’s sister mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. In addition, numerous professional ground-based telescopes will be watching along with amateur astronomers, including our local Southern Oregon Skywatchers. The impact plume should be visible in telescopes 10″ or larger in size.

For more information, please visit the ScienceWorks website at http://www.scienceworksmuseum.org/

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