February 2, 2009

Lunar impact observation teams selected

The U.S. space agency says it has selected four teams to observe the impact of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.

The satellite is part of a small companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., this spring. Instruments aboard the satellite are designed to search for evidence of water ice on the moon as the spacecraft collides with a permanently shadowed crater near one of the moon's poles.

The resulting debris plumes from the impact are expected to be visible from Earth with telescopes 10-to-12 inches in diameter or larger.

The observation teams will provide additional data and analysis about permanently shadowed craters to help researchers determine if water exists on the moon and in what form.

The selected teams and their leaders are Eliot Young of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. Nancy Chanover of New Mexico State University, Marc Buie of the Southwest Research Institute and Faith Vilas of the University of Arizona.