Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UT Austin Researchers And NASA To Crash Spacecraft To Find Lunar Ice

Date:
June 15, 1999
Source:
University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering
Summary:
Is there water on the moon? Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have designed a quick experiment to find out - crash a retired lunar module into the moon's south pole, which is believed to contain ice.

AUSTIN, Texas - Is there water on the moon? Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have designed a quick experiment to find out - crash a retired lunar module into the moon's south pole, which is believed to contain ice.

Related Articles


UT engineers and an astronomer are teaming up with researchers from NASA-Ames and the Los Alamos National Laboratory to analyze the debris created by the crash and check for evidence of water.

"The discovery of ice on the moon would be of great importance for human exploration of space. Space explorers could separate the ice into hydrogen and oxygen and use it for rocket fuel. They could use the liquid water to build and supply a lunar base," reasons Professor David Goldstein, a UT Austin aerospace engineer who helped design the experiment, along with Professor Steve Nerem, also a UT Austin aerospace engineer.

Goldstein identified a NASA spacecraft now orbiting the moon called "Lunar Prospector," whose mission will end this summer when it runs out of fuel and crashes into the moon.

His group has proposed to make Prospector's end a controlled crash, targeting a crater at the moon's south pole believed to have ice patches. Using some of the world's most powerful telescopes, Goldstein's group can measure the plume of water vapor created by the crash, thereby proving water's existence on the moon. The crash is planned July 31.

Prospector, as part of its primary mission, clearly detected hydrogen at the moon's poles. Hydrogen, along with oxygen, make up water, so Prospector found strong, but inconclusive, evidence of water at the poles. Prospector found the hydrogen inside permanently shadowed craters, craters whose floors never see direct sunlight, which would melt any ice.

"It really is a long-shot experiment," admits Goldstein. "We are crashing Prospector into a permanently shadowed polar crater, which means we cannot see the crash. But we hope to create a barely measurable plume of debris containing ice crystals, dust and water vapor, which will rise out of the crater for a few minutes. In addition, although the moon generally has no atmosphere, we hope the vapor produced by the crash may produce a very thin atmosphere that we can detect several hours later."

Goldstein's group is coordinating observations from UT's McDonald Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. NASA has provided preliminary approval for the project, although final approval is pending.

Goldstein's plan "Impacting Lunar Prospector in a Cold Trap to Detect Water Ice" is to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Geophysical Research Letters and presented at the American Geophysical Union's spring conference June 1-4 in Boston.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering. "UT Austin Researchers And NASA To Crash Spacecraft To Find Lunar Ice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990615080650.htm>.
University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering. (1999, June 15). UT Austin Researchers And NASA To Crash Spacecraft To Find Lunar Ice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990615080650.htm
University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering. "UT Austin Researchers And NASA To Crash Spacecraft To Find Lunar Ice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990615080650.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supermassive Blackhole Detector Ready for Business

Supermassive Blackhole Detector Ready for Business

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) Construction of the world&apos;s largest and most powerful observatory designed to detect and analyze gamma rays has been completed in Mexico. Gamma ray particles are considered the most energetic in the universe and scientists hope to use the observatory to learn more about the supernovas and black holes that produce them. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rocket Blasts Off Carrying U.S. Air Force GPS Satellite

Rocket Blasts Off Carrying U.S. Air Force GPS Satellite

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) A U.S. Air Force GPS IIF-9 satellite launches aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket into semi-synchronous orbit. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Opportunity's Marathon: The Mars Rover Just Keeps Going

Opportunity's Marathon: The Mars Rover Just Keeps Going

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) NASA&apos;s Opportunity Mars Rover finished a full marathon, making it the first human creation to do a full 26.2 miles on another planet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Twin Astronaut to Break NASA Record in Study

Twin Astronaut to Break NASA Record in Study

AP (Mar. 23, 2015) NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will be the first American to spend a year aboard the International Space Station in an experiment to test human endurance in space, while his twin brother&apos;s health is compared on Earth. (March 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins