[Offtopic] Re: Japanese Spacecraft Set to Hit the Moon

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Tue Jun 16 22:54:48 EST 2009

Alan writes,

> Is the moon now off course?  Tides going to change, or will the moon
> tear itself from it's orbit like in Space 1999 ? Best regards, Alan Oh

Well .. apparently the moon survived this Japanese spacecraft, so, we're
going to have another go next week .. 

Forty years after one small step on the moon, we're bracing for a giant 

Richard Macey June 13, 2009

A ROBOT explorer will soar into space next week on a kamikaze mission to 
punch a hole in the moon. The aim is to learn whether ice lurks where the 
sun never shines, on the floor of the moon's polar craters.

Travelling at 2.5 kilometres a second, the empty two-tonne upper stage of 
the rocket that launched the probe will crash first, sending debris - 
rock, soil and, perhaps, long-frozen ice - at least 10 kilometres high, 
possibly high enough to be visible from Earth.

NASA estimates the plume may be visible in telescopes as small as 24 to 
30 centimetres, owned by many amateur astronomers.

Travelling close behind, the 700-kilogram kamikaze robot, the Lunar 
Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, will plunge through 
the plume, sniffing for water. Four minutes later it too will smash into 
the surface.

The Tidbinbilla space tracking station, outside Canberra, will play a key 
role, monitoring the probe as it begins its voyage on Thursday morning, 
and the crash, set for October.

Finding lunar ice, said Tidbinbilla's spokesman, Glen Nagle, would give a 
major boost to NASA's hopes of returning humans to the moon by 2020.

Melting mined ice would provide astronauts' drinking water and breaking 
it down could provide oxygen for breathing and rocket fuel.

"Forty years ago it was one small step for man," Mr Nagle said. "This 
time it will be one giant impact."

Whether it is visible from Australia, said Nick Lomb, the astronomer at 
the Powerhouse Museum's Sydney Observatory, will depend on as-yet 
unconfirmed timing.

"If the impact happens during our night with the moon in the sky … I am 
sure that every local amateur with a large enough telescope will be 
observing. We will as well, at the observatory, with the 40-centimetre 
[telescope], if the timing happens to be suitable."

The explorer will ride into space with a second robot, the Lunar 
Reconnaissance Orbiter. A few hours after launch from Cape Canaveral the 
orbiter will be jettisoned to circle the moon, mapping its surface for 
future manned landing sites.

The orbiter will photograph all six Apollo manned landing sites, 
including where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history in July, 1969.

No one expects to see footprints, but the orbiter's project manager, 
Craig Tooley, told the Herald it should be able to spot the landing 
stages and "possibly even the tracks" left by astronauts. Three rover 
vehicles may be visible.

Each Apollo site will be scanned for new craters, formed since the moon 
walks. Such a find would gauge the hazards posed by micrometeorites for 
future astronauts planning to live on the lunar surface for months at a 



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