Farewell LCROSS

Saying Goodbye to a Really Amazing Spacecraft (and Team)

Well, we all knew it was going to happen.  It was inevitable.  It was the whole design of the mission.  LCROSS was destined to end its wonderfully fantastic journey by intentionally crashing into a permanently shadowed crater at the south pole of the Moon.  We are the ones who devised this fate for LCROSS.  So why should we be surprised (and just a little bit sad) now that the time has finally come?

As a proud member of the LCROSS Science Team and as the Observation Campaign Coordinator, I would have to say that working on this mission has been one of the highlights of my career thus far.  The mission itself is truly amazing (We’re impacting the Moon!  We’re looking to see if there’s water ice at the poles!  We’re going to this utterly unexplored place in our Solar System, so close to home, and are so excited about what we’re yet to learn!).  LCROSS is so important to both science and exploration.  This mission is blazing a new path in how to build small, robust spacecraft both on schedule and on budget.  LCROSS uses eight (yes eight!) commercial off-the-shelf instruments for its payload – also a very novel way for NASA to get more bang for the buck as well as good science to boot.  The technical aspects of the LCROSS mission are astounding, but none of this would be possible without the dedication of the *people* working on this project.

The LCROSS Team is made up of an amazing cadre of individuals.  LCROSS has a relatively lean and nimble team.  There’s still a lot of work to be done to send a spacecraft to the Moon, and so that means that everyone has to pull together to make things happen.  If somebody is extra busy and needs help, you help them.  If there’s something that needs to be done and you’ve never done it before, you figure out how to do it.  If you are stuck and need some assistance, just ask your teammates and without hesitation people are willing to help.  We all naturally come together to get the job done.  There is a high level of trust and commitment on this team, starting with the top Project management and all the way through the people working the nitty-gritty technical aspects.  It is truly a glorious experience to work with a team such as this.  The best part is that everyone is working towards a common goal, and everyone is willing and able to contribute in whatever way is needed in order to achieve the objective.  It is amazing what a group of people can do when presented with a fascinating project and an exciting challenge.

And it’s not just the Project folks who have helped make this happen, but it’s all of the students and members of the general public who have so substantially contributed to the successes of LCROSS.  Student interns at NASA Ames have had the opportunity to work with real honest-to-goodness flight hardware.  Not everyone has the opportunity in college to hold an instrument that will be on the Moon within the next year!  Such opportunities are tremendously powerful for encouraging the students of today to continue the pursuit of careers in math, science, and engineering.  Amateur astronomers from around the world have been imaging LCROSS in the night sky during its trip to the Moon and are planning to collect observations of the impacts as well.  This is a great way to actively participate in a NASA mission.  We’ve also been having a great time keeping folks updated regarding LCROSS activities through our NASA website as well as the LCROSS Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Thousands of people are following LCROSS on these sites and we’re thrilled to be able to have a two-way dialog to discuss all things lunar!

So, although this mission was destined to end in a spectacular grande finale culminating with two lunar impacts, it is a bit sad to see this phase of the project come to a close.  However, next up is the exciting analysis of the data to try and learn all we can about these enigmatic regions on our very own Moon.  And here’s to hoping there are lots more missions coming up in the future, because we are fired up and ready to go!

29 thoughts on “Farewell LCROSS”

  1. Paul:

    How did you dump the O2, H2, and other fuels, liquids to make sure you had a dry/clean impact?
    Boil it all off over some days this week?


  2. I will miss lcross talking to me on twitter.
    I have had so much fun from the very start talking to the spacecraft as it made this fantastic jerney to the moon.
    I wish the team lots of luck and heres to finding water on the south pole of the moon.

  3. You’re not just impacting the Moon. What you are doing will be visible from Earth and will impact the minds of all who bother to find a telescope and look up, giving empirical evidence to us all that yes, we can, and yes, we are, going back to the Moon, and beyond!

  4. Have loved being able to follow @LCROSS_NASA on twitter, will miss the posts and updates. Maybe the cost of @LCROSS_NASA will continue posting with data analysis updates. Anyway the team behind @LCROSS_NASA rock, thanks! 🙂

  5. I too have felt part of this mission being tweeted with all the posts. it has been fun too. Good flight, hats off to all the mission team. Hang in there LCROSS your prime directive is about to be fulfilled. Thanks again.

  6. What are the projected negative effects on the earth and the moon from doing this?….. Will we possibly have tidal waves or sunamis as a result?… Is this such a great idea?….

  7. Oh man, I wish I could see the impact but I don’t think it will be possible in Chile…
    Farewell LCROSS and good data collecting !!

  8. From witnessing the launch months ago, I knew right from the beginning that this was going to be a different, special type of mission. I can not thank everyone at Ames and Langley enough for answering all of my questions as I attempt to steer Florida’s media straight (the latest example … a local TV Station stating that “two rockets” are going to explode on the Moon).” I also happen to know that many people on the LCROSS team especially have been through long hours, personal hardships, and mid-mission stresses not unlike those once experienced by Apollo 13 mission controllers. Yet, with amazing skills by everyone involved, the mission was rescued and stands out as a rare (in my opinion) demonstration of NASA’s trademark “Can Do” spirit in its highest form of honor and praiseworthiness. I can’t applaud loudly enough. I would not be surprised if LCROSS uncovers more questions than answers, and you’ll be back for more.

  9. From Italy: the only way to see the impact here is via NASATV and I’ll be there! Thanks to all of you, this mission is very important for all the Space community. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

  10. Heh! Spaceships, an astronomical body, and explosions (well, an impact, anyway). Pass the popcorn!

  11. So…I guess destroying this planet is not enough. Now 79 million that could help Americans find jobs is going into bombing the moon. The horrifying thing is that the ‘team’ is excited about this destructive act. Violence in the name of science. Can you know for sure that this act won’t have repercussions on this planet in the generations to come? And as for the junk you’re going to leave on the moon, I’m guessing that no one’s going to clean it up? I pray (yes, I know that scientists don’t believe in God, but it’s just a figure of speech) that something will happen to stop this horrendous mission by tomorrow morning. If it doesn’t, it’s just more destruction that we have to pay for.

  12. To SD:
    I gather from your post that you aren’t really into astronomy. If you were, you’d realize that the lunar surface is bombarded with a metric tonne of meteorides per day. Yes, per day. Feel free to Google and verify. So, the only real difference that this man made impact will have on the surface is that we will be able to perfectly time it and therefore have our instruments ready to measure it for elements like hydrogen and oxygen.
    As for the $79 million price tag? I believe it’s better spent exploring the moon than blowing up people in Iraq or Afganistan. Probably a more “Christian” use of tax money as well.

  13. What is wrong with this country??? Are you guys crazy??? What if by some stupid chance you slightly throw the moon off it’s orbit??? There are people starving, homeless and jobless in this country and you do something stupid like this. What good is this going to do??? Add more cheese to the food lines?? I agree that our children should be more interested in science…but I am sure NASA could think of something a bit more constructive than trying to destroy the moon!!! As my daughter (17)just said…”it isn’t going to destroy the moon” … but what if??? Do we really know??? OMG…I am almost totally speechless! Stop messing with God..he’s going to get really mad someday and we are all going to pay for others stupidity. FYI..there are rocks in the lunar soil…OMG!

  14. I think this is going to be great, and I can’t wait to see the results.

    In the meantime, let me just say something to critics of this mission: Don’t you realize that “bomb the moon” is a rhetorical embellishment that the media has latched onto because of the dramatic ring to it? We’re not really going to hurt the moon. Do yourself a favor: Go outside at night and look up at the moon. Do you see those dark spots? They might not have taught you this in school, and you may have never paid any thought to it, but those dark spots are called “craters” and they’re created when asteroids and comets much bigger and much faster than this little probe crash into the moon. Over the years, millions and millions of objects have crashed into the moon, and I haven’t seen or heard about it breaking or falling from the sky or having any impact on earth so far. So before you criticize scientists for doing their job and trying to expand knowledge, why don’t you try to go learn a thing or two about the subject first so you don’t sound like a Chicken Little fool.

  15. Bombing the Moon? Am I the only one who sees how not cool that is? THE MOON DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU! My 12 year old has more respect for nature than all of NASA. She says the Antiquities Act should be invoked just to preserve it. Leave it alone. Kids follow by example. What are you teaching them? Play with whatever you like, however you like no matter that it isn’t yours. We are taught “Don’t Touch” by age three. Use all that fancy brain power some have suggested you possess and get to work HERE. Fix New Orleans, fix Detroit, find some cures for Aids or Cancer. Work on getting us out of the fix we’re in with fuel. Shame on you.

  16. Come on now, SD, it’s not like they are sending $79 Million to the moon. Those $$$ did provide jobs, good jobs, jobs that were well done and will add to our scientific knowledge. (Not like many government jobs = dig a hole during the day and fill it in at night.)

  17. i am a school teacher. i think i am very lucky to be living in these times and witness these efforts to widen our knowledge of the solar system

  18. Did someone miscalculate on the projected 6km dust cloud, or was the video so bad we couldn’t see it?

    If what we saw is what you expected, you could have done a better job in managing expectations.

    Here’s hoping the instruments all worked and picked up and transmitted lots of valuable data. I’ll be watching to see what you conclude it tells us.

    I was very impressed with the team sitting behind the terminals. Only the lady coordinating the ground observations had any paper and a pen.

    The guy who rejected a high five and promptly packed up and left must be the spirit leader. 🙂

    We’ve come a long way in four decades, from having men walk on the moon to collecting data while crashing landing. But, the video has not improved all that much. We really didn’t see much this AM.

  19. I am an American, currently studying in France, and it makes me proud to see our team of engineers, astronomers, and other assorted smarty-pants working with such fervor and determination, not to mention giddy enthusiasm, to further the mission of human knowledge. Congratulations to your entire team and may you have many more successful experiences in the future. Thank you.
    Collin Lucas
    Indiana, US
    Grenoble, FR
    Earth, Milky Way

  20. why nasa use taxpayer money and there many people today have jobs this is part spending tax money things we are not need most.didn’t know what would be NASA mission what could be outcome mission after what happen today

  21. i think they shouldn’t have built LCROSS just so it could hit the moon. they should have spent the extra money to send a person to the moon so they can bring back samples and drill in the moon and stuff

  22. I want to know why destructive Analysis was used to find H2o on the moon? Why didnt we use a rover type mechanism as we recently did on Mars? The Moon is much much closer than Mars, and we still have the mro up there.Nasa discovered water on mars before they confirmed water on the moon. This sounds back wards to me. lets send some more geological testing equipment to the moon before we start using destructive measures. i think this move was very un called for in this time of recession.sending an unmanned rover to the moon would have costed much more less on us tax payers as well.

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