This mid-infrared image was taken in the last minutes of the
LCROSS flight mission to the Moon.
The small white spot (enlarged in the insets) seen
within the dark shadow of lunar crater walls
is the initial flash created by the
impact of a spent Centaur upper stage rocket.
Traveling at 1.5 miles per second, the Centaur rocket
hit the lunar surface
yesterday at 4:31am UT, followed a few minutes later by the
Earthbound observatories have reported capturing both impacts.
But before crashing into the
lunar surface itself,
the LCROSS spacecraft's instrumentation successfully recorded close-up
the details of the rocket stage impact, the resulting crater, and
In the coming weeks, data from the challenging mission will be
used to search for
signs of water in the lunar material blasted
from the surface.
LCROSS Mission Team