Get ready for a unique cosmic collision! Early Friday morning, NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite will end its mission with a bang — literally.
The probe — also known by its acronym, LCROSS — is currently carrying along the upper stage of the rocket that launched it on its way to the moon on June 18. NASA’s game plan is to send that spent rocket motor on a course to smash into the lunar surface. Not just anywhere on the lunar surface, but to a thoroughly scrutinized crater called Cabeus that lies near the moon’s south pole and is enveloped in perpetual darkness. The hoped-for result will be to find hidden water frozen inside the crater.
For seasoned skywatchers here on Earth, the event should also produce a visible cloud of ejected material. However, only knowledgeable amateur astronomers with the right equipment will be able to detect the event. Others can watch the event live on NASA TV.
In jest, here’s a clip about “blowing up the Moon” from Mr. Show: