Friday, October 9, 2009

LCROSS: NASA - success! Public - dud!

The LCROSS spacecraft followed it's booster rocket into Cabeus crater early this morning. Cloudy here in Seattle, so I just watched NASA TV coverage and a live feed from one of the SLOOH remote telescopes. Nothing was seen of a plume either from the ground or the LCROSS itself. It was estimated that scopes of 10 or more inches would possibly see a 6 mile tall plume come out of the crater. Even Hubble was pointed there and didn't see anything. The spacecraft did what it was designed to do and the mission was very successful.
Good job NASA!
It will be a while before the data is processed, but I'm confident good information will be recovered.
I was pleased with the coverage, but it seems that the general public was expecting a fireworks show such as the destruction of Alderaan, which didn't happen. The news media hyped this up quite a bit probably raising the public's expectations to the point they expected to see a Space:1999 blast or a Bruce Willis comet bashing type of event. Even pasting in some "Star Trek" shakey camera with lens flares couldn't raise NASA's ratings on this one (don't get me started on that!). Wasn't it at least kind of cool to ride along in the front of a spacecraft on a doomed flight into the moon? We haven't had a ride like that since the old Ranger days. I guess the Deep Impact comet bashing was better since it had a big explosion of comet stuff.
The mission has been a huge success, and in the coming weeks the data could very well prove the existence of water - and confirm the data from the Indian Chandrayaan spacecraft that detected water recently.
The mission was executed for "a scientific purpose, not to put on a fireworks display for the public," said space consultant Alan Stern, a former NASA associate administrator for science.
Just reading the reports of two local news sources alone, really irriated me when I get down to the bottom of the article and read the comments people left about the mission. The stupidity of people shocked and really annoyed me when it appears that about 70% of the comments were those disappointed at the lack of a good fireworks show!
Anyway, read the following articles and post a comment on what you think.

| KOMOTV News (comments at bottom) |


Anonymous said...

The trouble with this event - when we get up at 4:30 ayem, we do expect to be entertained! I liked that comment that people are dumber than a bag of moon rocks. When you read that stuff that the Joe Blows write, it seems so. I just hope the next time there's such a mission that NASA doesn't clam up about it. Well, if that's possible in this day and age.

Rebekah Lou Taylor said...

People don't realize that this crater was near the South pole and that when things crash into the moon, its not a huge gush of material being projected out. In the many days to come and the weeks to come we will know more and see more!
Thanks for your views. I enjoyed them!

Tom said...

Thanks for the comments!
Yeah, I think we also have to realize the scale of things too. The Centaur was maybe 50 feet long (just guessing, I could look it up), and weighed about the same as a large SUV. Sure, it could make a big plume, but what is the scale that we can see from the ground anyway? Pretty small. I was just taking with another astronomer friend and we both agreed that NASA unfortunately probably hyped it up just a bit too much causing a big public disappointment. Sadly, this isn't the kind of thing NASA needs right now with the push for publicity, need for better education in science and all that stuff.
I'm sure we'll see the results in a few weeks, and I'm pretty sure there will be some indication of water or ice. India saw it, now LCROSS will sniff it out and confirm it! :-)