Shop Windows to the Universe

Become a nitrogen atom in the nitrogen cycle in our Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit/Game. See all our games, activity kits and classroom activities.
The Lunar Prospector will crash into the Moon on July 31, 1999. Scientists say they chose this date because funding for the project ends on August 1, 1999.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

Lunar Prospector Will Crash Into the Moon! (updated)
News story originally written on August 5, 1999

The Lunar Prosector crashed into the Moon on July 31. No plume of dust was visible from Earth. Scientists will study data taken by special instruments to see if water vapor escaped.

According to scientists, this was the best way to discover water on Earth's only natural satellite. Lunar Prospector was propelled towards a giant crater near the southern pole, and crashed into it at a speed of 3,800 MPH. Scientists hoped that seconds after the collision, a cloud of water vapor would surround the spacecraft. Other scientists, however, say there is no water on the Moon. Instead, the satellite will hit a surface which they say is like concrete.

"We don't believe that crater is paved like a roadway, but we do believe the soil may be chemically very much like concrete," said Von R. Eshleman, a researcher at Stanford University.

Eshleman believes that if there is any water at all, it is locked up in mineral crystals. These crystals would have to be heated to very high temperatures before the water could be taken out. Scientists are hoping that water would be available for a future lunar base on the Moon. The water could be separated into oxygen, which could be used for a breathing gas, and hydrogen, which can be used for fuel.

"I doubt if there will be a flash," David Goldstein, the scientist that first came up with the idea, said. "And the vapor cloud won't be visible."

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more

U.S. is Fed Up with Russia

Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more

More on Recent Coronal Mass Ejection

During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more

Mother Nature's Air Conditioning

J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more

Planetary Alignment 2002

In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF