Headlines > News > LCROSS Detects Life on Earth

LCROSS Detects Life on Earth

Published by Matt on Wed Aug 5, 2009 8:26 am via: source
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On Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009, the LCROSS spacecraft successfully completed its first Earth-look calibration of its science payload. An additional Earth-look and a moon-look are scheduled for the remainder of the cruise phase of the mission.

The purpose of the LCROSS Earth-look was to perform a routine health check on the science instruments, refine camera exposure settings, check instrument pointing alignment, and check radiometric and wavelength calibrations.

Shown above are images of the Earth from a distance of approximately 360,00 km. At this range the Earth’s diameter is approximately 2.2 degrees.

Shown above are images of the Earth from a distance of approximately 360,00 km. At this range the Earth’s diameter is approximately 2.2 degrees.

From its vantage point of 223,700 miles (360,000 km) from Earth, the LCROSS science team changing exposure and integration settings on the spacecraft’s infrared cameras and spectrometers and performed a crossing pattern, pushing the smaller fields of view of the spectrometers across the Earth’s disk. At this range, the Earth was approximately 2.2 degrees in diameter.

“The Earth-look was very successful,” said Tony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist. “The instruments are all healthy and the science teams was able to collect additional data that will help refine our calibrations of the instruments.”

During the Earth observations, the spacecraft’s spectrometers were able to detect the signatures of the Earth’s water, ozone, methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide and possibly vegetation.

Cold-Side Bake

Yesterday, LCROSS mission operations completed a cold-side bake of the LCROSS spacecraft and Centaur. Since there are no moving parts on LCROSS , the entire spacecraft is rotated to orient the solar arrays towards the sun. The side of the spacecraft and Centaur facing the sun gets very warm while the shaded side stays very cold. The purpose of this maneuver is to expose the cold side to the sun in order to remove any water or other volatiles that may still be present following launch. LCROSS Mission Operations plans on conducting further cold-side bakes to ensure the spacecraft and Centaur are free of any contaminants that may decrease targeting accuracy or complicate the interpretation of impact observations.

Shown is a single spectrum from the down-ward looking Ultraviolet/Visible Spectrometer. Credit: NASA Ames

Shown is a single spectrum from the down-ward looking Ultraviolet/Visible Spectrometer. Credit: NASA Ames

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