NASA's going for full impact Friday, firing a bomb-laden missile at the moon in a dramatic search for water.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is sending its Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) on a mission to fire a missile into the south pole of the moon that is twice the speed of a bullet.
The guided rocket will crash into the moon's surface creating a blast powerful enough to a huge plume of dust and debris. The spacecraft following closely behind will then take pictures and analyze the debris kicked up after the impact.
If you've got a 10-to-12-inch diameter telescope you'll be able to see the debris cloud created by the missile's impact. NASA predicts the impact will visible at 7:30 a.m. EDT on Friday morning.
Scientists have long differed over whether there could be water in the forms we know on the moon. Some believe there could be billions of tons of ice left from comets that have smashed into the moon over eons.
Last month, the online journal Science* reported that data from a recent space probe confirmed the presence of traces of water on the moon.
"It's not liquid water, it's not frozen water and it's not gaseous water,” said Jessica Sunshine, a University of Maryland astronomer who studied data from the probe. She said the water is a thin film of molecules on the moon's surface. But it could mean more traditional water deposits below the surface.
The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft launched in India last October, discovered the first sign of water on the moon’s soil. Scientist double-checked the findings with two other space probes, NASA’s Cassini, which passed the moon in 1999, and Deep Impact, which went by the moon in June.
The discovery could be a potential resource for astronauts, namely drinking water and rocket fuel.
NASA has been working on a plan to return to the moon by 2020, but the plan is currently being reviewed by the Obama administration.