Back in January I mentioned that one of my images was going to be published online. The image originally appeared (not counting this blog) on SpaceWeather and will now be appearing in an Selenology Today article about the upcoming LCROSS mission to the moon. The image is on page 72 of Issue # 13. The reference is to opportunities to image the vehicle during its journey. Apparently there will be a fuel dump early in the mission, which is what my picture is of.
The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will be launched with the upcoming Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. The LRO will be sent to the moon with an Atlas V rocket and a Centaur booster upper stage called the Earth Departure Upper Stage (EDUS). The launch is currently scheduled for late April (2009). LCROSS itself is a small satellite which will remain attached to the EDUS and guide it to lunar impact. Just before impact, EDUS will separate, decelerate and image the impact of the spent booster. The objective is to image the ejecta from the collision and determine how much frozen water may be present in the polar craters.
If you’d like to know more, I recommend at least reading the introduction. As published in the magazine, the article is over 100 pages long and I haven’t taken the time to read the whole thing myself. The sections about the LCROSS mission itself (section 5, page 52) and the conclusion (section 9, page 102) are certainly worth your time even if you have only a casual interest in astronomy/space missions. Check out the animation links at the end of the article also.
Admittedly, this is a fairly obscure online journal, but it’s still neat to have captured an image worth using as a reference in an article like this. The lesson is: keep those eyes (and cameras) looking up, you never know what you might see.