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Moon Explosion Could Yield Water for Humans

BY Quinn Bowman  October 9, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

Moon surface photo, courtesy NASA

The agency’s LCROSS mission – short for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite – sent a rocket booster crashing into a crater at the moon’s south pole at a speed of 5,600 miles per hour, leaving behind ahole approximately 65 feet wide, and 13 feet deep. Minutes later, a secondpart of the spacecraft sent its observations of the impact back to Earth before slamming into the same crater.

The impact was intended to show plumes of debris, however did not, much to the disappointment of observers watching through telescopes, as well as on an internet feed of the mission.

NASA scientists called the mission a success, saying it will take several weeks to analyze the data to determine whether the mission uncovered ice. If so, the data could play a part in the debate over the future direction of the agency’s human spaceflight program. If there is water on the moon, it could be used to sustain a manned facility there.

The NewsHour spoke with Professor Peter Schultz of Brown University, who is an investiagor with the LCROSS team. He said that while it was impossible to see the debris from space, the Centaur impact has yielded important data.

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