NASA Will Bomb The Moon Tomorrow

Tomorrow in the early morning American time, NASA's LCROSS spacecraft will bomb the Moon's south pole, in an effort to discover icy liquids beneath the satellite's crust. Hopefully we'll find water, and the Ice Warriors won't be pissed off.

Actually there will be no bombs involved. The LCROSS, or "lunar impacting probe," will itself smash into the Moon's surface near a crater-shadowed region where scientists have predicted that ice would form. Though radar of the Moon's surface lately has suggested strongly that such icy liquids are abundant on the Moon, the evidence remains inconclusive. Which is why we have to do the smash test.

The LCROSS will hit the Cabeus A site marked in the image below at 11:30 AM GMT October 9 - on the near side of the Moon, so you'll be able to see the explosion on impact if you have a decent telescope.

NASA Will Bomb The Moon Tomorrow

Phil "bad astronomer" Plait explains:

The plume from the impact should stretch up many kilometers. It will almost certainly be too thin to be seen by amateur instruments, but the impact itself should make a bright enough flash to be seen if you have a telescope. The crater itself will be in shadow, making the light flash easier to spot. It'll only last a second or two, so if you want to observe it, be prepared!

And if the plume contains melted water particles, tossed into the local volume of space on impact, that means a self-sustaining lunar colony is a more realistic goal than ever.

via Bad Astronomy