"The crashing spacecraft consist of an orbiter, LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite), which is now mapping the lunar surface, and its 2.2 tonne empty Centaur launch rocket. Both are currently on collision course with the Moon and still attached together. In the early hours of tomorrow, British time, the probe and rocket will separate. Then at 12.31pm the larger rocket will smash into the crater at 5,600 mph, blasting out 350 tonnes of debris in a 6.2 mile high plume. Following close behind, the LCROSS satellite beaming live pictures back to Earth will fly through the material and four minutes later plunge into the crater itself. LCROSS will trigger its own dust cloud a third of the size of the first one. As the debris is propelled into sunlight, scientists on Earth will study its composition with ground-based telescopes."
Thursday, 8 October 2009