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October 5, 2009

Water Found on the Surface of the Moon; Is There More Underground?

Life has been more than a little crazy, so I haven't had much time to write recently. This coming Friday is going to be a historic day in our exploration of the moon.

Last week, scientists found water on the moon.  You read that right, water on the moon!  This is incredible.  The amount of water is really small, but they could only see what was on the surface.  Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA said "[this discovery] is truly astounding, and generating much excitement. But please keep in mind that even the driest deserts on the Earth have more water than is at the poles and the surfaces of the moon."  So now the question becomes 'What is under the lunar regolith?"

This coming Friday, at way too early in the morning, NASA will crash LCROSS into the Moon.  NASA is going to have live coverage on NASA TV as it crashes into the moon.  This is really exciting because scientists will be able to study the plume of material from the impact.  This will give us a glimpse of what is under that regolith.  LCROSS will impact near the south pole in a crater called Cabeus.  With a large telescope you should be able to see the plume.  This is a once in a lifetime event.  The impact itself will be taking place around 5:30 Mountain Time.  The results will be exciting. Who knows what we will find?

Image credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS/Brown Univ.