Planets and Moons  ID: 3785

LAMP Observes the LCROSS Impact

A two-ton Atlas Centaur rocket body, part of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), struck the floor of Cabeus crater, near the south pole of the moon, at 11:31 UT on October 9, 2009. The purpose of the crash was to create a plume of debris that could be examined for the presence of water and other chemicals in the lunar regolith.

The Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) instrument aboard Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) observed the tenuous vapor cloud created by the LCROSS impact. LAMP is LRO's "night vision." Most of the time, it uses the ultraviolet light in starlight to peer into deep shadows on the moon's surface. For the LCROSS impact, LAMP was pointed just above the lunar horizon to watch for the arrival of a rapidly expanding cloud of vaporized debris from the crash.

In this animation, the viewer looks down the LAMP boresight and through its narrow window. The LAMP sensor lights up as the leading edge of the expanding vapor cloud passes through its field of view. What's shown here is actually the difference between the data recorded after the LCROSS impact and that recorded on LRO's previous orbit. See this entry for more about the process of subtracting the background to enhance the LAMP signal.


In this version of the animation, overlays have been added comprising callouts and a graph of the LAMP sensor data that builds up over time.



Visualization Credits

Ernie Wright (UMBC): Lead Animator
Chris Smith (HTSI): Producer
Randy Gladstone (SwRI): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Science Paper:
Gladstone, G. Randall et al. (2010). LRO-LAMP observations of the LCROSS impact plume. Science, 330(6003)

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LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter)

Data Used:
LRO/LAMP/Lyman alpha and UV also referred to as: LRO LAMP
Data Compilation - October 9, 2009
LRO/LOLA/Digital Elevation Map also referred to as: DEM
August 2009 - September 2010
JPL/Horizon Orbital Ephemerides
Ephemeris - NASA/JPL - November 6, 2009
Planetary ephemerides
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

This item is part of these series:
The Moon
LRO - Animations

SVS >> Elevation data
SVS >> Lunar
SVS >> Moon
SVS >> Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
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