Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Rwandan singer amongst terror plot suspects

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine in Geneva

    Read more

  • Algeria heads to the polls: ‘This election has nothing to do with us’

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

  • Iraq closes notorious Abu Ghraib jail over security fears

    Read more

  • In ‘Tom at the Farm’, Xavier Dolan blends Hitchcock and homoeroticism

    Read more

SCIENCE

NASA 'bombs' the moon to find water

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-10-12

The US space agency NASA has crashed a rocket into a crater on the south pole of the moon in the hope of detecting water. This is the first mission of the Constellation programme, which aims to take Americans back to the moon by 2020.

AFP - The United States blasted the surface of the moon Friday with two rockets on a mission to look for water below the lunar surface that could be used by astronauts on future space missions, NASA said.

At 1130 GMT the LCROSS satellite crashed into the Cabeus crater floor near the moon's south pole at around 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) per hour, followed four minutes later by a shepherding spacecraft equipped with cameras to record the impact.

Grainy thermal images carried on the US space agency's television station showed colder blue sites and warmer red sites on the moon's surface, but there was no apparent light flash as the rockets made impact.

NASA said the blasts would kick up a plume of lunar dirt to an altitude of about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) and produce a flash lasting about 30 seconds.

Cameras mounted on the 1,965-pound (891-kilogram) shepherding spacecraft were to beam live footage of the initial impact as the craft flew through the debris plume, collecting and relaying key data back to Earth before it too plows into the moon.

"The LCROSS science team is making their preliminary assessment of approximately four minutes of data collected from the LCROSS Spacecraft. Observatories involved in the LCROSS Observation Campaign are reporting in," the mission website said after the impact.

"We don't anticipate anything about presence or absence of water immediately. It's going to take us some time," cautioned Anthony Colaprete, project scientist and principal investigator for the 79-million-dollar LCROSS mission, which is also the first preparatory mission of the Constellation program that aims to send Americans back to the moon by 2020.

Colaprete projected it would take several days for analysts to evaluate the data and several weeks to determine whether and how much hydrogen-bearing compounds were found.

Ahead of the launch, Victoria Friedensen, LCROSS program executive, said she was feeling "a lot of exhilaration, a little sadness."

"I never thought I'd work on something as interesting," she told NASA television.

NASA scientists will be looking at what spews out after 350 tonnes of debris is ejected from the cold, dark Cabeus crater, staking its hopes on water in the form of ice.

The crater is 62 miles (100 km) across and between 1.6 and 2.5 miles (2.5 to four km) deep.

"We're hunting for how water ice was stored and trapped in these permanently shadowed areas over billions of years and we want to find out how much there is," explained Peter Schultz, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University who helped design the mission.

The mission comes just two weeks after India hailed the discovery of water on the moon with its Chandrayaan-1 satellite mission in partnership with NASA.

Scientists had previously theorized that, except for the possibility of ice at the bottom of craters, the moon was totally dry.

Finding water on Earth's natural satellite would be a major breakthrough in space exploration and pave the way toward future lunar bases for drinking water or fuel, or even man living on another planet.

"This could be the place that we could go to mine water for a permanent lunar base," said Schultz.

"It tells us something about how water was delivered to the moon and other planets in a sort of cosmic rain, meaning impacts from comets over eons."

Friedensen said interest levels in the project were high because of the potential if water were found.

"If we had it there, we could actually make exploration be a bit more sustainable," she said. "We could make fuel on the moon."

But much uncertainty surrounds NASA's future missions to the moon, as a key review panel appointed by President Barack Obama's administration said existing budgets bar a return to it before 2020.

The last manned mission to the moon, Apollo 17, took place in 1972.

 

Date created : 2009-10-09

Comments

COMMENT(S)