Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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Catching Up

Spent an hour last night writing an article on the LCROSS event at NASA Ames for SFinSF fanzine, and forgot to write about it here. Hopefully the article will make the next issue, which will be posted as a PDF near this link.

The nutshell version is it was a fun event, well worth attending, but the expected and highly hyped view of the Centaur space module crashing into the Moon did not happen. Or more accurately, the plume was too small and the "shepherding" LCROSS spacecraft taking the pictures was too far away to be able to identify the impact. Very disappointing for those of us who has spent nine hours bundled up in bedrolls and heavy jackets on the parade ground lawn waiting for this spectacular event.

But aside from the fizzle at the end, it was fun. There were about 200 of us in camp chairs and air mattresses and just parked on blankets or sleeping bags on the grass in front of a 2-story-tall projection screen watching presentations by LCROSS engineers, highlighted by a talk and "home" movie by Charlie Duke, the third-to-last man to walk on the moon.

There were some food stands, Jamba Juice, Mario's pizza and free water and bargain priced popcorn. There was never a line at the ample porta potties. They showed three Apollo mission-inspired movies, one for the kids and two for the grownups. Two original music videos were played, and at about 3:30 am with about an hour till impact, we watched some expert commentators interview LCROSS managers and engineers from a table inside one of the nearby buildings. About 5 minutes to impact they switched to photos of the moon being fed from the spacecraft, a new one every minute or so. As the experts were pointing out the impact site on one of the photos, the image went to white noise, and we knew the shepherding craft had crashed, as planned. We never saw the actual impact, and looking at NASA's web site, neither did they. Even on the infrared images it was just another brighter-than-the-background smudge on one of the craters.

But apparently the mission was a success, it just wasn't the fireworks display they advertised. The whole purpose of the mission was to see if there was any water ice hidden in the darker craters on the moon's south pole. I'm betting Lunar Warming has melted it all. Blame the Apollo missions' carbon footprint. ;-)


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