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LCROSS Takes Aim At the Moon

[My story on LCROSS.]

America is returning to the moon -- violently. A rocket booster and a small spacecraft will crash into the moon Friday morning at 5,600 miles an hour. The Earth's satellite will have two new craters.

Conspiracy theorists are not happy about the "bombing" of the moon. They say it's probably a military test. Naturally there's a website called donotbombthemoon.

There is no bomb, actually. But that's beside the point: the important thing is that this is a star turn for the moon. The moon has been rather boring in recent years even by the standards of lifeless wastelands. No astronauts have visited. There's never any weather. There are no volcanoes. Our moon lacks the kind of typhoons that drop methane rain on Saturn's Titan. No one has ever accused the moon of harboring a subsurface ocean like some of Jupiter's moons. Carl Sagan never countenanced the possibility that the moon is artificial, as he did, briefly, with the Martian moon Phobos.

The main function of our moon has been to inspire song lyrics and give wolves something to howl at. Also it stabilizes the Earth's axial tilt, making Earthlife as we know it possible -- if you want to get all technical about it. But since Apollo, the moon has largely been in eclipse, public-relations-wise. Until now. After so many years of being the place where nothing ever happens, the moon has suddenly become the hottest satellite in the solar system.

NASA thinks there could be water, in the form of ice, lurking at the lunar poles. The space agency is eager to see what will spew from a cold, dark crater at the moon's south pole when the rocket booster and spacecraft crash early Friday morning. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) is a science mission, but it's also a show, a demolition derby that will attract the gaze of the Hubble Space Telescope and telescopes on land around the world.

The first impact will be at 7:31 a.m. EDT -- 7:31:19 to be precise -- and the second impact four minutes later. Amateur astronomers with large telescopes can try to observe from their backyards, but NASA officials say it'll be hard to detect, and that the best place to watch will be online as the LCROSS spacecraft watches the booster slam into the moon and streams the video onto the Internet. In Washington, the public can watch on a big screen at the Newseum.

"You'll see a flash of light, and we have a special instrument called the Total Luminance Photometer -- TLP -- specifically designed to look at that flash, which is very quick," said NASA planetary scientist Jennifer Heldmann.

It was just a few weeks ago that NASA scientists announced that, using remote instruments, they'd found tell-tale signs of water on the moon. The water isn't liquid. It's in the form of molecules that come and go on the lunar surface.

"Who woulda thunk that the moon has a water cycle on it, perhaps?" Anthony Colaprete, the LCROSS principal investigator, said in a conference call Thursday, reflexively tarnishing a good quote with the scientific caveat.

Click here to keep reading.

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 8, 2009; 8:30 PM ET
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Finally, a real TLP (transient lunar phenomenon), and a TLP in place to record it too!

Posted by: DNA_Girl | October 8, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Editors? Washington Post front page has the Cards winning 3-2 to tie the series.

Posted by: russianthistle | October 8, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Can I segue back to the last Boodle?

This was popular when I lived in Ohio. I chopped the broccoli into small pieces and added some grated cheddar.

Broccoli Cornbread
•2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix, or similar
•4 eggs, beaten
•1 1/2 sticks melted butter or margarine (6 ounces)
•1 pkg. (10 oz) chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
•1 medium onion, chopped
•1 cup cottage cheese
Combine all ingredients and pour into greased 9- X 13-inch baking dish. Bake at 375° for 35 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Posted by: -dbG- | October 8, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Hah! dbG, that sounds just like the "Easy Cheese and Broccoli Pie" recipe that used to be on the Bisquick (do you all have Bisquick?) box in the mid-80s. It was easy, but not that good. Good enough for a late night when I'd been working on a proposal with hungry little kids lurking at home, though.

I wouldn't dream of making baking-powder biscuits from that box, I assure you. Nor pancakes, nor dumplings, all of which it claimed to be capable.

Posted by: Yoki | October 8, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

If memory serves, this is good! Maybe I should try it again this weekend and report back, though. I do remember the Bisquick thing being awful. Certainly, corn muffin mix is better than Bisquick.

This next thing is interesting--the original article (linked to in this one) is good, the rules are good, . . .

Posted by: -dbG- | October 8, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen a Playgirl since 1985 when I snuck one out of my roommate's closet.

And the bats at the Congress Street Bridge were very underwhelming. It must be too late in the summer for them.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 8, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I thought the water on the moon report wasn't from NASA but from some cut-rate space exploring nation, like India maybe?

It's funny, I just caught a TV report from last winter on cable. I wonder how it could be possible. 2-3 inches of snow in dr's Edmonton and -13C in Yoki's Calgary. Shirley, it doesn't make sense a day or two BEFORE Thanksgiving.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 8, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I wich them well. May they find water, and may they go back. Its the vision of a far and distant youth.

I use Bisquick for camping, because it does several things reasonably without a lot of hassle. It coats fish should we catch some it does pancakes, it does biscuits. Hey its camping and camping covers many sins.

I like to use a recipe I found for a home made biscuit mix that keeps in the freezer or I did back in the day. I was not a rushed mom, but I was with the boys alone for weeks on end while mrdr worked away. The mix made it easy to put up a decent supper even if all we were having was pea soup and biscuits with homemade jam.

These days I use James Beards recipe. Because I have it and I can.

Posted by: --dr-- | October 8, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Just keep the fire extinguisher handy dr, because you need to (according to your own stories).

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 8, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Shirely it does, SD.

I'm not sure about Yoki's place. She had it bad earlier this week, but todays snowfall here was not the accumulating kind. It snow showered all day and though some was always on the ground, there was never more than a skiff to see.

Situation normal. Sweater weather.

Posted by: --dr-- | October 8, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of burning food, SD, we had dinner at son 3's last week. He put his frozen lasagna in a little late, and it took much longer to cook than expected. I kept telling him to turn up the heat. The rotten children I gave birth too said in unison 'so that's how you do it' and mrdr chimed in and says to them, 'what you din't know?'

I am surrounded I tell you. Surrounded.

Mrdr just now walked in the door, after a trip to Lethbridge to survey some buildings. He said going down south, the first half of the trip was terrible but the last half, not too bad. The storm moved south during the day and coming home the south had it really bad. Net result was crappy roads all day.

It will be better after we get a little sun, but I am thrilled to say I got my snow tires last week. Sweater knit, tires on. Have at me winter.

Posted by: --dr-- | October 8, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Totally arctic here now, shriek. It was sunny and +14C this morning, and now -10C. And snow fell, sometimes heavy and soft, sometimes cold and dusty, all day.

Now? All dusty fine and cold. Oh my goodness, is it ever cold.

Situation normal. Over all.

Posted by: Yoki | October 8, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Heat wave down here. Ninety today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday. Not a chance of rain. The beach (which I haven't visited this week) was, according to the newspaper, liberally sprinkled with smelly poop ejected by migrating manatees. I've never figured how manatees and green turtles manage to live on seagrasses and such, but it was also a mystery that feral horses in Wyoming fed themselves at spots with scarcely any vegetation. I had an easier time believing that saltbushes (Atriplex) were nutritious even if as salty as ramen noodles, and could keep sheep plump and happy.

Some of those saltbushes grew on bentonite, a special clay that's fluffy when dry, unimaginably sticky when wet. It seems to have been designed specifically by Providence to serve as drilling mud for oil wells. Those bentonite hills with saltbushes looked precisely like lunar vegetation, if there were such a thing.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | October 8, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

When camping, we used to make a recipe of Bisquick biscuits and add about 3/4 cup of grated sharp cheddar. Form into a long roll. Wrap the roll around a nice clean branch ("Quick! Pick it up before the dog gets over there!) being careful to clamp the ends onto the branch, and then have the kids take turns holding and turning the biscuit branch over the camp fire. It really works!

Posted by: nellie4 | October 8, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Bisquick makes perfectly fine pancakes when you are camping, too. Actually o.k. anytime. Remember to pack the maple syrup.

Posted by: nellie4 | October 8, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

I know at least one person who subsists on ramen during the week. And is upstanding.

If that can be so, wild horses can eat sea grass.

Posted by: Yoki | October 8, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

we have a certificate of occupancy. *preparing a shingle*
the moonrise tonight as something. waning gibbous clad in harvest colours, rising above the treeline, some two miles distant from the bus lot. i drove the tennis team to Lugoff this evening, and arrived back in town to this fantastic sight.

Posted by: -jack- | October 9, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

add an a and an e to LCROSS, and you get a whip shot in your face. long live box lacrosse.

Posted by: -jack- | October 9, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Woo hooh! jack's shed passed final inspection! Congrats to jack and SoG!

Have I mentioned that jack is an honourary Canadian? (Which is something to celebrate.)

No Lacrosse in the yard, dude.

Posted by: Yoki | October 9, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

in the foyer, perhaps?

Posted by: -jack- | October 9, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Most certainly in the foyer.

Posted by: Yoki | October 9, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Good night, Boodle darling. So happy and sad tonight.

Posted by: Yoki | October 9, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm heading to this moon-bombing thing. Can you believe Obama won the Nobel? Maybe he should be knighted, too. He needs more honors.

Posted by: joelache | October 9, 2009 5:59 AM | Report abuse

Yup. Amazing, Joel. Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for Being Not George Bush.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 9, 2009 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Good for him.

Posted by: rainforest1 | October 9, 2009 6:27 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Yes, winning the Nobel this early in his administration kind of set the bar a little high. What's the next step, canonization? Where do you go from there?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 9, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

The Nobel is really going to infuriate the GOP Noise Machine now. To make matters worse, Obama won it for his efforts to reaach out to Muslims, and his efforts to reduce nuclear weapons. We're going to hear about this for a freaking week or two, about (a) how he did nothing to earn it and (b) what little he did do was blah-blah-blah, and the Norwegians are a bunch of blah-blah-blah.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | October 9, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe that the Nobel committee would "inject" itself into our politics!!!!

Personally, I am hoping that today, I will feel a bit better.

Posted by: russianthistle | October 9, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Just WOW. I realize that having our President win a Nobel Peace prize won't change anything, but it's surely an indication of how he is perceived in that part of the world. A sitting president! Uh-mazing.

I've miles to go before I sleep, so I'd better get started. Hospital visits and a funeral are on the agenda for the morning. The funeral is for the dear black Baptist minister who was one I was responsible to care for, not that *I* could provide anything but interest and attention to him and his wife. I visited him in the hospital last Friday and he was laughing and teasing the nurses, so I was dumbfounded that he died so quickly. A sweet and loving soul, acceptable to God.

Posted by: slyness | October 9, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

I halfway thought there'd already be a Peace Prize Kit up...


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 9, 2009 7:18 AM | Report abuse


But you know, I agree. Quite strongly. For changing the tone of American international relationships is how I heard it put.

Boodle hearty today. I can't wait to backboodle tonight.

Posted by: --dr-- | October 9, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

New kit.

Posted by: --dr-- | October 9, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

I think Not Being George Bush goes a long way and this proves it.

Posted by: -TBG- | October 9, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

watching for impact.

Posted by: russianthistle | October 9, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

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