Since the LCROSS team reloaded and switched which lunar crater they are targeting for impact with the spacecraft and its upper stage of the Centaur rocket on October 9, the SMART-1 team has reloaded as well, and has released an updated image of the new crater. LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) will search for water ice on the Moon by making two impacts into Cabeus crater at the lunar South Pole. The impacts are scheduled for 11:31:19 UTC and 11:35:45 UTC.
Previously, the SMART-1 team had released an image of Cabeus A, the original target crater.
Bjoern Grieger, the liaison scientist for SMART-1’s AMIE camera, and Bernard Foing, ESA SMART-1 Project Scientist, searched through SMART-1’s database for images of Cabeus, taken four years ago. The
SMART-1 images are at high resolution as the spacecraft was near its closest distance of 500 km from the South Pole.
The Cabeus crater interior is permanently shadowed, so ice lying inside the crater could be protected from the Sun’s harsh rays. LCROSS will send the upper stage Centaur rocket crashing into Cabeus and a
shepherd spacecraft will fly into the plume of dust generated and measure its properties before making a second impact with the lunar surface. Astronomers will observe both impacts using ground and space-based telescopes. The SMART-1 spacecraft also concluded its mission with a controlled bouncing impact on September 3, 2006. The event was observed with ground-based telescopes (a “dry run” for LCROSS), and the flash from the impact was detected at infrared wavelengths.
“The Cabeus topographic features as observed by SMART-1 vary greatly during the lunar rotation and the yearly seasons due to the polar grazing illumination conditions,” said Foing. “The floor of Cabeus
near LCROSS targets shows a number of small craters and seems old enough to have accumulated water ice delivered from comets and water-rich asteroids, and might have kept it frozen in its shadowed
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