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A NASA spacecraft slammed into the moon early last Friday morning, exploding into a cloud of debris — and Professor of Geology Peter Schulz was elated.

The rocket's mission — to search for signs of water in a crater near the moon's south pole by analyzing the debris produced in the crash — was a "complete success," said Schultz, a co-investigator on the project.

The objective of the Lunar Crater Observing and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, mission was to determine if the make-up of the debris suggest a substantial amount of water is present in the crater, Schultz said.

If so, lunar mining stations could provide future water resources for Earth, he said.
Schultz is currently at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, studying the data gathered from Friday's impact. NASA will release initial conclusions soon, but the official scientific results of the mission will not be released until the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting in December.

After the initial rocket crashed into the lunar crater to create debris, a second spaceship carried instruments developed by Schultz, who was involved with the mission from its earliest stages, to collect data about the debris.

The data will allow him to analyze how deep the crater was at impact, how high the debris rose and how fast it fell.

"All instruments worked well" during the mission, he said, and "enough data was collected."
People hoping to glimpse the lunar crash on Friday expressed disappointment once it became clear that plumes of debris from the crash would not be visible with backyard telescopes as NASA had announced, according to an article on CNN's Web site.
Brendan Hermalyn, a graduate student in planetary sciences working with Schultz on the impact physics of the crash, added that the analysis will bring "unique insights out of the data."


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