LRO-LAMP Observations of the LCROSS Impact Plume

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Science  22 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6003, pp. 472-476
DOI: 10.1126/science.1186474

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On 9 October 2009, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) sent a kinetic impactor to strike Cabeus crater, on a mission to search for water ice and other volatiles expected to be trapped in lunar polar soils. The Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) ultraviolet spectrograph onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) observed the plume generated by the LCROSS impact as far-ultraviolet emissions from the fluorescence of sunlight by molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide, plus resonantly scattered sunlight from atomic mercury, with contributions from calcium and magnesium. The observed light curve is well simulated by the expansion of a vapor cloud at a temperature of ~1000 kelvin, containing ~570 kilograms (kg) of carbon monoxide, ~140 kg of molecular hydrogen, ~160 kg of calcium, ~120 kg of mercury, and ~40 kg of magnesium.

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