Saturday, October 10, 2009

The sky isn't falling...

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NASA made history again this week…but not everyone sees it for the well-designed, perfectly executed, and totally awesome experiment that it was.

The spacecraft LCROSS completed its mission in the wee hours of Friday morning. It launched a rocket into the Cabeus crater near the south pole of the moon, analyzed the debris, and then crashed itself into the same crater. The instruments on board were designed to pick up infrared signatures of water and carbon-containing compounds. The impacts were minuscule, the scientific components were off the shelf, the budget was a fraction of most NASA missions, and yet…someone started a "save the moon" campaign?

Yes, that's right. One Huffington Post blogger questioned who gave NASA "permission" to so violently assault our moon. Please. Do not feel sorry for the moon. It has no feelings.

Besides…have you SEEN the moon? Those aren't acne scars. The lunar surface is peppered by cosmic debris on a daily basis. This pair of impacts do not compare to the beating its taken in its lifetime.

The explosions were so harmless, people on Earth really didn't get the spectacle they were hoping for. The NASA TV video is actually quite anticlimactic (may I suggest the animation below that is much more entertaining to watch).

The data, though, will help scientists figure out how much water and other useful substances are up there. We might have a colony up there someday, and this brings us one step closer.

Some may question the purpose behind such an endeavor. Others, including myself, see it as a worthwhile use for technology that is, sadly, most often used by the military. I say, if there are going to be rockets and bombs, and let's face it, there will always be rockets and bombs, why not use them for cool space experiments?

~Rheanna Sand


  1. I have heard that scientists expect to find about one litre of water for every cubic meter of moon. Given this is a relatively small amount, do you think that it would be more efficient to simply transport water from earth?

  2. Yes, I think mining the moon for water is silly. Could you imagine sending spaceships back and forth to get something the earth is covered in? It would be like the Saudis digging in the oil sands.

    I don't think they are looking for water to harvest it though...I think they are studying how water got there in the first place. I've read that the rays that bombard the rocks can bring hydrogen and oxygen together to form water molecules. I'm interested in what else is in there - can more complex molecules be created in this way? Or were they brought to the moon by comets and other cosmic debris?