Researchers have always believed that the Moon is a dry celestial body, but in recent years it has been suspected that there could be water there. The water would then be present in the form of ancient ice, buried at the poles where the temperature is around -230 degrees Celsius. In an attempt to find the answer, NASA has launched the space probe LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite) which will crash against the Moon's surface on October 9 at 13:32 (Swedish time).

The experiment will proceed in two steps. First a rocket is launched to crash in a shadowed crater at the Moon's South Pole. The impact will eject material from the crater’s surface to create a plume which could contain ice and vapour. Shortly after the space probe will descend through the plume and analyse its content.

Researchers at the Department of Astronomy also participate in the experiment. Aage Sandqvist and H-G Florén programme the Swedish satellite Odin which is going to point its telescope at the crash site to look for water vapour created in the impact. The preparations were highlighted in a news segment on Aktuellt on Swedish TV.
- One of Odin's main objectives in astronomy is to search for water vapour in different astronomical objects, and this is something that the satellite really has accomplished: in many comets, in Mars' atmosphere, on Jupiter, in star-forming regions and the centre of the Milky Way. Now we are focusing on the Moon, where Odin is programmed to study the content of the plume that is created when LCROSS crashes on the Moon's South Pole. It's a tremendously exciting project, says Aage Sandqvist.

More information on LCROSS Contact:

Aage Sandqvist, Tel: 08-5537 8523, aage@astro.su.se