SMART-1 Mapped Crash Scene of Upcoming LCROSS Impact

The European Space Agency’s SMART-1 team has released an image of the future impact site of NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). LCROSS will search for water ice on the Moon by making two impacts into a crater named Cabeus A at the lunar South Pole. The impacts are scheduled for 11:30 am UT on 9 October 2009.
Bjoern Grieger, the liaison scientist for SMART-1’s AMIE camera, and Project Scientist Bernard Foing have searched through SMART-1’s database for images of Cabeus A, taken four years ago at conditions where solar elevation and direction were similar to those of LCROSS impact. The SMART-1 image is at high resolution as the spacecraft was at its closest distance of 500 km from the South Pole. The SMART-1 image of the LCROSS target was discussed last week at lunar sessions of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) in Potsdam, Germany. More

Let’s Name the LCROSS Impact Crater After Walter Cronkite

Editor’s note: The other night I started to Twitter that I thought it would be a good idea that the crater LCROSS will form should be named in honor of veteran space journalist Walter Cronkite who died the other day. Others joined in and repeated that idea.
So what is the LCROSS_NASA team’s response? They dodge the issue: “Our team heard your requests. When it comes to naming craters, it is up to the IAU. NASA can explore possibility of petition to IAU to name.”
As you will recall during Apollo missions, crew members named craters and other features. And the Mars rover people name craters, rocks, pebbles, and all manner of things all the time. Do they ask the IAU for permission to do that? NO. Indeed, the names given to rocks at the Viking lander sites in 1976 by mission personel are still in use.
So c’mon guys. Use a little imagination – use crowd sourcing and involve the public – the same public who paid for your mission and who were well served by Mr. Cronkite for decades. LCROSS can certainly recommend a name and use their own name in the mean time. There is no legally binding reason to prohibit NASA from doing this – nothing IAU does has the force of law. Indeed, the IAU does not have any interest whatsoever in the view of the public anyway.
To virtually all who watched him, Walter Cronkite was always a face on a screen – one painted upon our eyes by photons. Imagine how many thousands – maybe millions – would now stop for a moment to watch as this crater was created in his name? How often can you stand in your backyard and see that? In so doing, Walter Cronkite can have one last stupendous effect on the world – from the Moon – through a blast of photons travelling one last time to our eyes.

Continue reading “Let’s Name the LCROSS Impact Crater After Walter Cronkite”

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) Releases New Image of the Moon’s South Pole

This image was taken by Lunar Orbiter IV in May 1967 and shows the south pole of the Moon. Figure 1 shows the region without labels. Figure 2 shows major features plus notation regarding processing artifacts from the spacecraft’s film processing system. The moon’s south pole is located near the rim of Shackleton Crater.
Adjacent to the south pole is Shoemaker crater named in honor of famed planetary geologist Eugene Shoemaker. The Lunar Prospector spacecraft, carrying some of Shoemaker’s ashes, was deliberately crashed in this crater in an attempt to see if any water ice would be thrown up by the impact.
The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will be targeted to impact at the south pole of the moon. As such, the moon’s polar regions are of great interest right now.

Figure 1 South Pole of the moon as seen by Lunar Orbiter IV (larger image)

Figure 2 South Pole of the moon as seen by Lunar Orbiter IV with prominent features and processing artifacts identified (larger image)

This image has been recovered in its original high resolution format from original Lunar Orbiter project data tapes using restored tape drive hardware and will eventually be submitted to the PDS (Planetary Data System).
LOIRP Note: We will be putting the full resolution version of this image on the NASA Lunar Science Institute website with the layers preserved for Photoshop for all you folks to have fun with! We only ask that you send us copies of what you do and credit us if you publish it anywhere.
For more information on the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) visit
For information on NASA’s Lunar Science Institute visit

LCROSS Citizen Science

The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will excavate the permanently dark floor of one of the Moon’s polar craters with two heavy impactors in 2009 to test the theory that ancient ice lies buried there. The impact will eject material from the crater’s surface and subsurface to create a plume that specialized instruments will be able to analyze for the presence of water (ice and vapor), hydrocarbons and hydrated materials. Mission scientists estimate that the Centaur impact plume may be visible through amateur-class telescopes with apertures as small as 10 to 12 inches. As the mission progresses, this site will provide the general public, classrooms, and the amateur astronomy community details on how to observe the impact. The LCROSS mission will actively solicit images of the impact from the public. These images will provide a valuable addition to the archive of data chronicling the impact and its aftermath. This site will include a gallery of images received from both the public and professional communities. [More]

Student Navigation Challenge: Charting a Course to the Moon

NASA Quest and the LCROSS mission invite you to register for Part II of the “Exploration through Navigation Challenge: Charting a Course to the Moon”. In this challenge students will be tasked to chart a course from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida to one of the lunar poles using navigation skills appropriate for outer space. The essential question used to keep students on task is “How do you stay on course?” [More]