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NASA, Searching for Water, Is Going to Crash Spacecraft Into the Moon

Finding abundant water lurking in the crater at the lunar pole would certainly make a moon base there more plausible. The targeted crater, named Cabeus, is permanently shadowed. The water molecules that wind up in the crater will get so cold they might never leave, Wargo said.

"If they hop into one of these cold, dark craters, they lose so much energy that they don't have enough energy to jump out again," Wargo said.

Hopping water! Who said nothing happens on the moon?

LCROSS was launched in June along with another spacecraft that is now in lunar orbit. The small LCROSS spacecraft flew to the moon attached to the rocket booster. After separating from the booster, the spacecraft will observe the booster's impact, then fly through the schmutz that is ejected from the crater, using a variety of instruments to analyze its composition.

The two craters formed by the impacts will be modest -- about 66 feet wide and 13 feet deep for the booster, a bit smaller for the trailing spacecraft.

Although comments posted on the Internet by handwringers and frowny-faced people suggest that the mission is a waste of money, it's actually rather cheap by NASA standards, just $79 million.

Crashing is much cheaper than landing.


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