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The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) was a robotic spacecraft operated by NASA. The mission was conceived as a low-cost means of determining the nature of hydrogen detected at the polar regions of the Moon. Launched immediately after discovery of lunar water by Chandrayaan-1, the main LCROSS mission objective was to further explore the presence of water in the form of ice in a permanently shadowed crater near a lunar polar region. It was successful in confirming water in the southern lunar crater Cabeus.
|Mission type||Lunar impactor|
|Operator||NASA / ARC|
|Website||NASA - LCROSS|
|Mission duration||Launch to last impact: 3 mo., 20 days, 14 hrs., 5 min.|
|Launch mass||Shepherding Spacecraft: 621 kilograms (1,369 lb)|
Centaur: 2,249 kilograms (4,958 lb)
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||June 18, 2009, 21:32:00 (2009-06-18UTC21:32Z) UTC|
|Rocket||Atlas V 401|
|Launch site||Cape Canaveral SLC-41|
|Contractor||United Launch Alliance|
|Impact date||October 9, 2009, 11:37 (2009-10-09UTC11:38Z) UTC|
LCROSS was designed to collect and relay data from the impact and debris plume resulting from the launch vehicle's spent Centaur upper stage (and data-collecting Shepherding Spacecraft) striking the crater Cabeus near the south pole of the Moon.
Centaur had nominal impact mass of 2,305 kg (5,081 lb), and an impact velocity of about 9,000 km/h (5,600 mph), releasing the kinetic energy equivalent of detonating approximately 2 tons of TNT (7.2 GJ).
Centaur impacted successfully on October 9, 2009, at 11:31 UTC. The Shepherding Spacecraft descended through Centaur's ejectate plume, collected and relayed data, impacting six minutes later at 11:37 UTC.
Contrary to media reports at the time, neither the impact nor its dust cloud could be seen from Earth, using the naked eye or telescopes.