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NASA crashed a spacecraft on the south pole of the moon

The spacecraft, LCROS will be launched together with LRO and will separate from it to crash

crash on the moon on purpose - NASA will launch a spacecraft that will open a crater and analyze its composition

The spacecraft - LCROS
The spacecraft - LCROS

In 1959, a spacecraft crashed on the surface of the moon near the Sea of ​​Tranquility. The ship itself was destroyed, but the mission was crowned with success. Luna 2 from the Soviet Union became the first man-made object to "land" on the moon. Perhaps unwittingly, Luna 2 created a trend: a deliberate crash on the moon. Dozens of spacecraft have already done so.
The first Kamikazes were Ranger spacecraft built and launched in the early sixties. Five times the car-sized spacecraft crashed on the moon, with cameras ticking all the way down. For the first time, they transmitted to Earth detailed images of the moon's craters, rocks and soil. The data transmitted to Earth was essential to the success of the Apollo missions.
Even after NASA managed to practice soft landings, the crashes continued. In the late 1966s and early 1972s, flight controllers routinely pointed the Saturn boosters at the moon to cause tiny earthquakes to be measured by Apollo seismometers. Crashing was also easier than moving these rockets to the coffee track. The moon's uneven gravitational field acts on satellites in different ways, and without frequent orbit corrections, satellites orbiting the moon tended to crash to the ground. Although the moon has become a convenient graveyard for old ships: all five American Lunar spacecraft (1959-1965), four Soviet Luna series spacecraft (1970-1971), two sub-satellites used in the Apollo mission (1993-1999), the Japanese spacecraft Hiten (XNUMX), NASA's Lunar Prospector (XNUMX) ended their lives in a crash.
All this experience will now come to the aid of NASA. The agency's researchers plan to search for water on the moon and they intend to do so through a crash landing. The name of the mission is LCROSS, , short for
Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite. Team leader Tony Collapart from NASA's Ames Center explains how this would work: "We think the frozen water is hiding inside some of the always dark craters on the moon. So if we get hit inside one of these craters, we will throw some fragments, we can analyze the material that will fly and look for signs of the existence of water in it.
The experiment takes on a new importance in view of NASA's intention to return to the moon, and when the researchers get there, they will need water. Water can be split into hydrogen for rocket fuel and oxygen for breathing. They can also be mixed with the moon dust for the production of concrete for construction purposes. Water is also a good shield against radiation and when thirsty you can also drink it. One way is to launch water tankers from Earth, but this is expensive. A better idea would be to mine the water directly from the lunar surface. But is there such water? This is what LCROSS intends to discover.”
The journey will begin in 2008 when LCROSS will take off from Earth folded inside the same rocket that will also take off the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a large spacecraft that will carry out its own lunar scanning mission. After the launch the two spacecraft will split up. LRO will head for lunar orbit and LCROSS for crash landing. There will actually be two crashes. LCROSS itself is a dual spacecraft, a smart little mother spacecraft, and a not-so-smart rocket booster. The mothership is called the "shepherds spacecraft" because it will guide the booster to the moon. The spacecraft will fly to the moon together but will hit it separately.
The accelerator will hit first, and should turn two tons of lunar mass and 10 billion joules of kinetic energy into a blinding flash of heat and light. The researchers expect that as a result of the crash, a crater with a width of about twenty meters will be created and fragments will be thrown up to a height of 40 kilometers. A little behind, the evil spacecraft will film the collision and float through the debris plume. Spectrometers on board will be able to analyze the spectrum of the plume and look for signs of the presence of water (H2O), parts of this molecule (OH), salts, clay, hydrated minerals, and mixed organic molecules. "If there is water there, or something else interesting we will find it." Collapart said. After that, the shepherds' spaceship will also start the death march. Like the old Rangers, it will navigate to the lunar surface while continuously photographing the surface and transmitting the images to Earth. The control personnel will be able to see the crater's exhaust swelling and filling the entire field of vision, an exciting sight. Until the bitter end, the shepherd's spectrometers will continue to "smell" water. "We can monitor the data stream up to 10 seconds before the impact," Colpart said. "And we should have sufficient control to land within 100 meters of the rocket booster's landing site."
The shepherd spacecraft will be lighter, its weight will be only a third of that of the booster, so its damage will be relatively small. However, the shepherd will also create her own crater and plume, which will be added to those of the accelerator. The astronomers hope that the combined plume will be visible from Earth and this will allow observations to continue even after the Shepherd is destroyed. Many readers surely remember the Lunar Prospector crash on the moon in 1999. Mission controllers placed the spacecraft into Shoemaker Crater near the moon's south pole in hopes of splashing water - as LCROSS is supposed to do, but no water was found.
"LCROSS has a better chance of succeeding," Colpert says. First, its impact energy will be 200 times greater than that of the Lunar Prospector, and therefore it will be able to create a deeper crater and throw fragments to a greater height, which will be clearly visible. While the Lunar Prospector plume was only observed through a telescope from Earth, a distance of 360 thousand kilometers, the LCROSS plume will be analyzed by the Shepherd spacecraft from a short distance, using instruments specially designed for this purpose.
Only one question remains open: where LCROSS will crash. "We haven't decided yet" he said. "The best places are the craters near the poles whose bottoms are shaded all year round, and the water reservoirs can survive there in the form of ice to this day. Less trivial sites can be inside canyons, canals and lava tubes. "There are many candidates. A meeting of researchers came in to discuss and rank the variety of sites, and finally choose one of them."

Update 11 / 4 / 2006

Simulation of the crash
Simulation of the crash

NASA will launch a spacecraft that will crash on the moon in an attempt to locate ice deposits. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is scheduled for launch in October 2008. A spacecraft called the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing will orbit separately from the orbiter and crash land on the surface of the moon in search of water ice.
Pictured: Artist's impression, the first stage and the separate spacecraft (left) arrive at the moon before impacting the South Pole area (right). Credit: Credit: NASA/John Frassanito and Associates. + View Animation (Windows)

First, the spacecraft will direct the upper stage used to leave Earth orbit to crash into a pitch-dark crater in the South Pole region. The plume that will be created after the impact will be seen by observers on Earth. The satellite will then observe the plume of material that will be ejected from the moon and pass through it, while using several instruments in an attempt to look for water. At the end of its mission - circling the moon and exploring it, the satellite will also become a projectile when it creates a plume that will be visible to the eyes of other moon orbiters and observers on Earth.
LRO will be the first of many robotic missions that NASA will launch between 2008 and 2016 to explore, map and study everything possible on the lunar surface in preparation for sending astronauts to the moon. Early missions like this will help locate potential landing sites and locate resources such as oxygen, hydrogen and metals.

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