SMART-1 eyes LCROSS strike site

via Astronomy Now.

An image from the ESA lunar probe SMART-1 has been released showing the crater that marks the final destination for the LCROSS mission. LCROSS will strike the crater Cabeus A at 11:30am UT on October 9th. The hope is that the impact of the upper stage of the Centaur rocket that launched it and LRO will vapourise ice held in the semi-permanent shaded areas of the crater floor and that LCROSS itself will be able to directly sample that ice when flying through the cloud. The low altitude LCROSS requires to do this means that it too will smash into the surface, generating a dust cloud. Time has been booked on ground and space based professional and amateur telescopes at the time of the impact.

The recent detection of water by Chandrayaan-1 and maps of hydrogen concentrations on the surface by LRO point towards a high likelihood of success in the mission.

UPDATE: NASA have announced that they’ve changed the target crater from Cabeus A to the larger nearby Cabeus. NASA have stated that their LRO probe and JAXA’s Kaguya probe indicate there’s a better chance of ice in the larger crater. The discovery of a valley creating a break in the high perimeter crater wall means the ejecta will still be illuminated enough to be seen from Earth (there will be higher contrast, but the cloud must get higher for this to happen). Is it something ESA said?

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