Mission Details

Mission Name: LCROSS
Mission Type: Lunar Impact
Operator: NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
Launching State: United States
Location: Cabeus Crater
Latitude: -84.731
Longitude: -49.478
Launch Date: 18 June 2009, 21:32:00 UT
Landing Date: 9 October 2009, 11:37 UT
Objects on or Related to Site:
LCROSS Centaur upper stage
LCROSS Shepherding Spacecraft
Image Source: NASA

Description

The main objective of NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite was to confirm the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater. The LCROSS shepherding spacecraft and the Atlas V’s Centaur upper stage rocket executed a fly-by of the moon on June 23, 2009 and entered into an elongated Earth orbit to position LCROSS for impact on a lunar pole. On final approach, the shepherding spacecraft and Centaur separated. The Centaur acted as a heavy impactor to create a debris plume that rose above the lunar surface. Following four minutes behind, the shepherding spacecraft flew through the debris plume, collecting and relaying data back to Earth before impacting the lunar surface and creating a second debris plume.

Read more:
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/overview/index.html

Heritage Consideration

LCROSS confirmed that water was present in the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact.

Object on or Related to Site

Object Name: LCROSS Centaur upper stage
Cospar: 2009-031B
Norad: N/A
Location: Precise location unknown or undisclosed.
Launch Date: 18 June 2009, 21:32:00 UT
Landing Date: 9 October 2009, 11:31 UT
Deployment: N/A
End Date: N/A
Function: Confirm presence or absence of water ice.
Image Source: NASA

Description

The projectile in this story was a just over 40-foot-long section of the rocket that had lifted LCROSS off the Earth and into space. Normally, what amounts to an empty fuel tank is abandoned once a spacecraft has passed through the atmosphere, but LCROSS held on to it during its flight to the Moon, repurposing it in the name of science.

The LCROSS team knew this upcycling idea could work, thanks to testing done at the Ames Vertical Gun Range, a unique NASA facility used to simulate high-speed impacts of celestial bodies on a small scale. In the early morning hours of October 9, 2009, the moment of truth arrived: LCROSS released its used-up rocket, sending it almost straight down into Cabeus crater, near the Moon’s south pole.

As the debris cloud rose above the crater’s rim and was exposed to sunlight, any water ice and other molecules of interest were vaporized and broken down into their basic components. The cameras and other instruments on board LCROSS could then see what this lunar crater soil was made of. Four minutes was all the time the LCROSS spacecraft had to fly through the lunar dust, soil and other debris lifted into the air by the empty rocket’s impact. In real time, LCROSS streamed images and other data back to Earth, where the mission’s scientists were watching at NASA Ames.

Read more:
https://www.nasa.gov/ames/lcross


Object on or Related to Site

Object Name: LCROSS Shepherding Spacecraft
Cospar: 2009-031B
Norad: N/A
Location: Precise location unknown or undisclosed.
Launch Date: 18 June 2009, 21:32:00 UTC
Landing Date: 9 October 2009, 11:37 UTC
Deployment: N/A
End Date: N/A
Function: Confirm presence or absence of water ice.
Image Source: NASA

Description

Information needed.

Comments
All comments.
Comments