Friday, September 01, 2006

Blowing Up Stuff on the Moon

The EU's Smart-1 lunar orbiter will be crashing down into the Lake of Excellence this weekend, most likely on Sunday morning at 1:41 a.m. ET, and most likely at the point indicated in the photo (click on link above for a more precise location).

According to

The high-speed slam dunk is expected to create yet another crater on the Moon--perhaps some 16 feet to 33 feet (5-10 meters) across. Dust and other material ejected off the Moon may well be visible to observers with big telescopes back here on Earth.

Amateur astronomers are invited to turn their telescopes on the given co-ordinates.

As this article explains, there's actually some real science being done here. Scientists know how fast Smart-1 is traveling and its mass. Therefore, studying the brightness of the flash that results when it self-immolates against the lunar surface will help them determine the same information with respect to the meteorites that they constantly observe crashing into the moon.

Also, lunar orbiters tend to blow up real good.

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