Archive for June, 2009

LCROSS reached the Moon

On Tuesday, June 23,
Toda LCROSS executed a swingby of the Moon, NASA reports.

LCROSS reached periselene, its closest approach, at 10:30:33 UT, with the spacecraft passing 1,988 miles (3200 km) from the Moon. The flyby resulted in a gravity assist from the Moon which put LCROSS into its cruise Lunar Gravity Assist Lunar Return Orbit (LGALRO).

The swingby also provided mission scientists with an opportunity for instrument calibration and the return of images from the far side of the Moon.

see images and read more on Naca site about Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS).

Bright Flash on the Moon

Perhaps we’ll be able to watch a bright flash or plume of dust from the crash of Kaguya on the Moon on Wednesday? Japan’s Kaguya lunar orbiter will end its nearly two-year mission when it collides with the moon at 1830 GMT. Researchers will study its impact site to watch how radiation and micrometeoroids weather the newly exposed lunar soil over time, reports.

Launched in September 2007, Kaguya, formerly known at SELENE, sought to shed light on the formation and evolution of the moon by studying its composition, gravitational field and surface characteristics. Kaguya deployed two smaller satellites after reaching lunar orbit that allowed it to relay data to Earth while it was on the moon’s far side and to better measure anomalies in the moon’s gravitational field. It also made the world’s first HD video of the lunar surface. Like previous lunar orbiters, including China’s Chang’e 1 and Europe’s SMART-1 probes, Kaguya will end its voyage in a violent rendezvous with the moon’s surface.

It is set to impact in the lower-right section of the moon’s near side. Coming in at a very shallow angle – nearly parallel to the ground – the probe has a high chance of skipping across the surface, like a stone across a pond. Ground-based observers are unlikely to see this skipping. But they might be able to spot a plume of dust raised by the impact, if it is backlit by the sun, like snow thrown up by a skier ploughing through powder, says Bernard Foing, project scientist of the European Space Agency’s SMART-1 probe, which impacted the moon in 2006.

Viewers should also expect to see a brief flash as some of the kinetic energy of the probe, which will be moving at 6000 kilometres per hour, is converted to heat and light in the collision. “It’s a final show for the Japanese people,” says Shin-ichi Sobue, a researcher and spokesperson for the Kaguya mission. Foing says researchers can learn from these crashes. “Impact is the destiny of each orbiter,” he told New Scientist. “We try to make use of it as a research opportunity.”