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McMoon Mission

9 Oct 2009, 12:16 UTC
McMoon Mission
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If a spacecraft blasts into the moon and you don't see anything, did it hit water?That's the question NASA is wrestling with this morning, following the visually challenged LCROSS mission, which provided close up views of the non-plume created when its 2.5-ton spent rocket motor went crashing into a lunar crater Friday morning. The shepherding spacecraft scanned the crater for four minutes before it too plunged into the depths. The visual no-show may not mean much in the end: there still could be ample water trapped in the lunar poles, but maybe not enough material was dislodged by the 5,600 mph impact to breach the crater's rim. Or maybe some material did rise into view, but not enough for visual detection. NASA will painstakingly survey data taken of the impact by an armada of ground and space-based observatories, as well as poll the amateur astronomical community who signed up to participate in the mission. But apparently, those looking for good show this morning were disappointed. "NASA fails," reported some observers on their Twitter streams. Perhaps we just watch too much TV.

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