NASA Picks Moon Crater For LCROSS To Slam Into

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When NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) slams into the Moon on Oct. 9, it will aim for the south polar crater Cabeus A, the U.S. space agency announced Sept. 11.

The $79 million Moon-impacting spacecraft was built by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, Calif., and was launched June 18 along with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

LCROSS is carrying a spent Centaur upper stage that it will hurl at the Moon in order to search for signs of water in the plumes of debris ejected when the truck-size rocket stage crashes into the crater.

LCROSS will measure properties of the debris and transmit data back to Earth before also colliding with the lunar surface.

Cabeus A was one of several finalist craters — including Shackleton, Shoemaker and Hayworth craters — examined by the team for many months. The crater sits at 81 degrees south on the Moon and measure about 40 kilometers across.

The crater also meets NASA’s criteria for achieving an impact likely to throw up debris in a way that telescopes in space and on the ground will be able to see it.