Scientists and curious onlookers are gearing up for what many are calling the day NASA ‘bombs’ the Moon in search of water. Tomorrow, at approximately 12:30pm UK time, the Lunar Crater Observing and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will send 2,305kg of American engineering headlong into the south pole of our nearest neighbour in space.
The impact will see a new crater added to the already much pockmarked lunar surface with this man-made moon scar stretching twenty metres across. The momentum of the impact will hurl a 350 tonne plume of material into lunar orbit which the waiting Shepherding Spacecraft will fly through, searching for traces of water before impacting the Moon itself four minutes later.
The target is Cabeus, a crater found some 100km from the Moon’s South Pole, a location that precludes much penetration from sunlight, rendering the maximum temperature 100K.
Such low temperatures and data from a previous mission have led scientists to predict the existence of water ice hidden in Cabeus’ murky shadows. Slamming into the lunar surface is the best way to unveil the Moon’s hidden secrets.
As Jacob reported earlier in the year, evidence for lunar water has already been provided by the Indian Chandrayaan-1 probe and further evidence of water on the Moon would add to our understanding of our Solar System.
However, despite its scientific merits there has been a backlash against the mission with accusations of extra-terrestrial terrorism. Apparently LCROSS is NASA committing “an eco-sin on a galactic scale.” Nevermind that the Moon is 385,000 km away and the galaxy is 100,000 light years across.
With these words the blogger of ecosalon.com warns that, “the Moon is a celestial body revered by Earthlings of all cultures, inspiring poets, shamans and lovers across the globe.”
These feelings seem to be echoed by the imaginatively titled dontbombthemoon.com who quoth that, “it is dangerous to bomb the moon when we are unclear of the outcome. We feel that bombing the Moon could bring us consequences that are both psychic and physical. Disruption of cycles.”
Nowpublic.com take the celestial biscuit though when they philosophise that, “the problem is this, by bombing the moon in many exopolitic experts opinion is this action will cause an all out war in space with extraterrestrials. These same extraterrestrials even have bases and crafts placed on the Moon.”
This last totally absurd notion aside, there seems to be this wide held belief that the Moon is sacred and that by making a miniscule pinprick in it that somehow we are going to cause apocalypse. Never mind that asteroids hit the Moon all the time. Never mind that with your very own eyes you can see evidence of hundreds of much larger impacts which have left our “cycles” untouched. This isn’t the first time lunar lunacy has made it onto one of my blog entries.
There are just so many things wrong here. However, part of the blame for such nonsense has to lie at the media’s door. In their perpetual attempt for an attention grabbing headline they have fashioned this notion of ‘bombing’ the Moon, a label which quite misrepresents what is actually going on.
Depending on which camp you sit in, you can either watch an innovative scientific experiment or the destruction of life as we know it from 11:30am tomorrow at http://www.slooh.com/LCROSS.