NASA to Discuss Findings Thursday from Lunar Probe's Sacrifice
An artist's illustration of NASA's LCROSS mission to crash two probes into the moon and kick up moon dirt on Oct. 9, 2009.
Credit: NASA

NASA plans to hold a conference call with reporters Thursday (Oct. 21) to discuss findings from a mission that intentionally crashed a probe into the moon last year to look for water ice.

NASA's $79 million LCROSS probe smashed into a crater near the moon's south pole, kicking up a huge debris plume that contained significant amounts of water. The results hinted that the moon could harbor lots of water, perhaps enough to support lunar bases.

The teleconference, which takes place at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, will highlight additional findings from the LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) mission, NASA officials said.

NASA's LCROSS mission launched in June 2009 along with the space agency's powerful Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. In October of that year, the LCROSS probe watched as its upper rocket stage crashed into the lunar south pole, then followed the impactor in to make a crash of its own. [Greatest Moon Crashes of All Time]

The LRO spacecraft monitored the impact, as did other space-based and ground observatories.

The teleconference will focus on data gathered by the following instruments and projects:

  • The Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, which measures lunar surface and subsurface temperatures from orbit.
  • The Lyman Alpha Mapping Project, which is mapping the entire lunar surface in the far ultraviolet spectrum.
  • The Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector, which creates high-resolution maps of hydrogen distribution and gathers information about the neutron component of the lunar radiation environment.

The panelists scheduled to participate in the call are:

  • Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator, NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
  • David Paige, Diviner instrument principal investigator, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Igor Mitrofanov, Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector principal investigator, Institute for Space Research, Moscow
  • Peter Schultz, professor of geological sciences, Brown University, and LCROSS science team member
  • Paul Hayne, graduate student at UCLA and Diviner team member
  • Randy Gladstone, Lyman Alpha Mapping Project deputy principal investigator, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
  • Richard Vondrak, LRO project scientist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The LRO spacecraft helped detect water in the impact plume LCROSS kicked up.

While the LCROSS probe was destroyed during its mission, the LRO probe continues to orbit the moon. The spacecraft recently began an extended mission dedicated to scientific investigations into the moon's surface and history.