Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Four LCROSS Observation Teams

Payload scientist Kimberly Ennico and software engineer, Mark Shirley perform system checks on the nine science instuments in the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) instument payload in the clean-room facility at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach

NASA has selected four teams to observe the impact of LCROSS with the lunar surface during the mission's search for water ice at the Lunar Poles.

LCROSS is the companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), now scheduled for launch in April. Instruments aboard the LRO are designed to search for evidence of water ice on the moon as the 2,000 lb Centaur -class LCROSS collides with a permanently shadowed crater near one of the moon's poles.

These formal observation teams "will provide additional data and analysis about permanently shadowed craters to help researchers determine if water exists on the moon and in what form.
LCROSS and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) established specific selection criteria and USRA administered a "rigorous selection process."

According to Jennifer Heldmann, lead for the LCROSS Observation at NASA Ames, "the contributions from the selected observation proposals will contribute substantially to the LCROSS mission."

The selected proposals were:

-- Accessing LCROSS Ejecta: Water Vapor and Particle Size and Composition from Keck, Gemini, and the IRFT Telescopes; principle investigator Eliot Young, Southwest Research Institute in Boulder.

-- LCROSS Lunar Plume Observations with the Apache Point Observatory; principle investigator Nancy Chanover, New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

-- Multi-spectral Imaging of the LCROSS Impact; principle investigator Marc Buie, Southwest Research Institute.

-- Searching for Polar Water Ice During the LCROSS Impact Using the MMT Observatory; principle investigator Faith Vilas, Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona in Tucson.

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