http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/nasa-prepares-to-bombard-moon/ In what sounds like the plot of a Bruce Willis movie — but is in fact a real scientific experiment on a grand scale — NASA is preparing to plow a satellite and its booster rocket into the surface of the moon on Friday morning, to see if there is any sign of water in the two dust clouds created by the impacts. The spacecraft rapidly approaching the moon right now — at 2,638 m.p.h. — is known as the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS. On Friday morning, as NASA explains in a blog post on the mission Web site: Beginning at 6:30 a.m. C.D.T., the LCROSS spacecraft and heavier Centaur upper-stage rocket will execute a series of procedures to separately hurl themselves toward the lunar surface to create a pair of debris plumes that will be analyzed for the presence of water ice. The Centaur is aiming for the Cabeus crater near the moon’s south pole, and scientists expect it to kick up approximately ten kilometers (6.2 miles) of lunar dirt from the crater’s floor. As my colleague Kenneth Chang reported in June, the satellite will photograph the rocket’s impact in the polar crater: If the plume of debris contains water ice, LCROSS should be able to detect it. It will then quickly send the data back to Earth before it, too, slams into the Moon four minutes later. As an article on NASA’s Web site explains, the space agency will be streaming the impacts live on its Web video channel NASA TV and the dust plumes should be visible to anyone with a fairly serious telescope positioned on the right part of our planet: The Hubble Space Telescope, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and hundreds of telescopes great and small on Earth will scrutinize the two plumes, looking for signs of water and the unexpected. “We expect the debris plumes to be visible through mid-sized backyard telescopes—10 inches and larger,” says Brian Day of NASA/Ames. Day is an amateur astronomer and the Education and Public Outreach Lead for LCROSS. “The initial explosions will probably be hidden behind crater walls, but the plumes will rise high enough above the crater’s rim to be seen from Earth.” The Pacific Ocean and western parts of North America are favored with darkness and a good view of the Moon at the time of impact. Hawaii is the best place to be, with Pacific coast states of the USA a close second. Any place west of the Mississippi River, however, is a potential observing site.