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Published on September 8th, 2009 | by Ross Kendall


NASA's Moon Blast a Public Relations Disaster

September 8th, 2009 by  

Centaur on the way to the moonIt maybe happening in space but people are still screaming. NASA’s mission to fire a high velocity “impactor” rocket into the moon to search for water is being widely criticized in the blogosphere.

The moon’s big bang

If NASA’s plans go ahead as forecast for an October 9 launch people have got just two more opportunities to watch a full moon before the planet is subject to what many consider mightily unneighbourly conduct.

The plan, or the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission, is to fire a Centaur rocket into a crater at the South Pole of the moon which will act as a “heavy impactor” sending a debris plume over 30 miles high (or nearly 50 kilometers).

A second sensor satellite will then drop down into this plume analyzing its contents in the hope of finding water. The success or otherwise of this search will ultimately determine how realistic a full-time base on moon can be.

The upper stage of the launch vehicle (about the weight of a large SUV) will hit the Moon at over 5,600 mph (9,000 km/h), which is roughly twice the speed of a bullet. And this impact will excavate a crater about 1/3 of a football field wide and about the depth of the deep end of a swimming pool.

NASA boasts: This crash will be so big that we on Earth may be able to view the resulting plume of material it ejects with a good amateur telescope.

But the moon has friends:

The perception that the experiment is overtly aggressive and destructive has rankled many. The far majority of follow-up comments to reports on the LCROSS mission in Scientific American and Siliconindia, to name just two, are highly critical of the mission and its aims.

Ragaroiox’s comments are typical:

This is the stupidest idea I have ever heard of. These are the “greatest minds of our generation.” Yeah right.

And Eddy Rose poses a teaser:

Keeping in mind the tidal influence of the moon on Earth, remember also that our bodies are composed of the same percentage of water. What if this sudden disturbance sends everyone (and everything) living on Earth crazy?

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About the Author

Ross is based in Australia. He is an avid follower of human nature and is particularly excited by the sustainability-based ways that populations can deal with their current environmental and social problems. Ross has been a journalist for the past 10 years and prior to that worked in finance and economics.

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