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Spacecraft Makes A Splash On The Moon


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


Good morning.


MONTAGNE: Remind us first, before we get to the visuals, of why NASA was knocking a hole in the moon in the first place.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, NASA thinks that water in the form of ice might be hiding in cold, dark lunar craters, ones that never see the sun; they're in permanent shadow. So what they did was, they hit a crater at the moon's south pole to kick up stuff from the bottom so that NASA could analyze it. The mission was called the LCROSS Mission, for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.

MONTAGNE: And you, as we said, you watched the collision. How did you see it?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, I watched it online. I watched the NASA webcast of footage that was sent from one of the spacecraft. It was following a large rocket part and that rocket part hit the moon and threw up dust and the spacecraft flew threw it.

MONTAGNE: And what did the collision look like in the end?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: But still, they said they got enough data to say if water is there, but it's going to take them a little while to go through all of the information and make a statement on that.

MONTAGNE: And besides you, Nell, telescopes around the world were watching.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: That's right. They were watching to see the cloud of debris come up over the rim of the crater, and that information is starting to come back now.

MONTAGNE: You know, let's (unintelligible) thing about this mission. Why do we care if there's water on the moon?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, you know, NASA says it could be used by future explorers, but you know, they also just want to understand the moon. It's our close neighbor. And you know, we're learning new things about it all the time.

MONTAGNE: But is that - is there any issue here?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Yeah, there have been headlines, you know, NASA's bombing the moon and things like that. People love the moon. But you know, the moon gets hit by meteorites all the time. It has no atmosphere, so it's constantly getting pummeled by things from space. And you know, it's just a regular day for the moon.

MONTAGNE: And our Web site will be updated throughout the day as the new images come in, and thank you, NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce, for bringing us up to date at this moment.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.