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Two Missions Go in Search of A Watery Lunar Bonanza

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Science  15 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5929, pp. 878-879
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_878

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Early next month, NASA plans to launch an Atlas 5 rocket to the moon. Piggybacking on the Atlas launch will be the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission. Upon reaching lunar orbit this fall, the spent Atlas upper stage will make a 7200-kilometer-per-hour impact on the moon intended to blast lunar water—if any—high above the surface for all the world to see. No one is sure that the water is there, where exactly it would be, or how well the $80 million LCROSS will excavate it, but scientists are looking forward to the big splat.