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August 25, 2009

A Spacecraft Anomaly and an Amazing Picture

LCROSS (the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) is part of NASA's plan to return to the moon.  LCROSS is a low-cost, high-risk mission.  That risk, however, was not supposed to be until October.

On August 22nd, LCROSS started experiencing an "anomaly."  According to NASA, a fault in one of the instruments used to determine its orientation caused the thrusters to fire excessively.  Mission operations declared a "spacecraft emergency" and are still working to mitigate the problem.  One of the major problems is the large amount of fuel LCROSS consumed durring the anomaly.  The team is still trying to figure out what went wrong to try and prevent it from happening again.

I really hope that NASA can get this figured out soon.  The main objective of LCROSS is to crash into the surface of the moon and send up a plume of material.  As of right now, NASA is saying that they will have enough fuel for everything to continue as planned.  The plan now is to impact the moon in the early morning of Oct. 9th.  Don't be surprised if this date changes and I will keep you updated on opportunities to view this amazing event.

The image at the top is an image taken by LCROSS of the moon and the Earth both as crescents.  The Earth is in the foreground and the blue/red specs are cosmic radiation (not stars).

Image Credit NASA Ames