Monday, October 19, 2009

BLAM!


LCROSS hit the moon with a bang, with stunning results. Mostly because so many of us were expecting a more impressive show and were stunned by the puff of white we might or might not have seen. Still, the LCROSS team were able to locate the Centaur stage impact event in their imaging stream and are happy so far with the returned data -- which is still being analyzed. Hopefully important data will soon be streaming out of NASA Ames.

One should keep in perspective the cost of this project. The LCROSS mission was in some ways a "freebie", since it was a bit of extra hardware sent up with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. LRO is still on-going. The Centaur stage 'impactor', was part of the original rocket launch and the LCROSS plume detection satellite started out as a secondary payload adapter/spacer ring, sitting between the Centaur stage and the LRO spacecraft. So except for ground control and the bits of off-the-shelf hardware added to the spacer ring, LCROSS was nearly 'free' -- as 'free' as spacecraft can ever be.

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