Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)

Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)

Courtesy of NASA

LCROSS was a robotic mission to the Moon trying to detect the presence of water ice. The spacecraft had two parts: the LCROSS shepherding spacecraft and the probe, Centaur. The spacecraft got positioned in orbit, and then on October 9, the probe deployed and purposely crash-landed into the Cabeus crater area of the lunar south pole, where it was suspected there might be water ice. It was hoped that Centaur’s crash would create a plume of debris, then LCROSS itself would descend a few minutes after Centaur’s crash and use the scientific instruments onboard to analyze the materials in the debris plume, before it too crash-landed.

June 18, 2009

June 23, 2009

End of Mission
October 9, 2009

Search for water in the form of ice in a crater that is always in shadow at the Moon’s south pole. Deploy a device to crash into the crater, creating a plume of potentially icy debris to be measured, then crash itself into the crater, creating a second plume.

The LCROSS probe, Centaur, crashed into the surface at Cabeus crater and created a debris plume. The main spacecraft flew through the plume, collecting data, and relaying it back to Earth before crashing into the lunar surface. NASA confirmed that emissions in the ultraviolet spectra indicated the presence of water in the crater.