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Cratering the Moon Challenge
Welcome to the Spring 2008 NASA Quest Challenge!
Help scientists at NASA find water on the lunar poles.

Archive of Webcasts:
March 5, 2008 - Challenge Opening
May 9, 2008 - Challenge Closing

Just like on Earth, water is a crucial resource on the Moon. It will not be practical to transport to space the amount of water needed for human consumption and exploration. It is critical to find natural resources, such as water, on the Moon. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission will begin the search for water, leveraging the information we learned from the Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions.

By going to the Moon for extended periods of time before other bodies in our solar system, astronauts will search for resources and learn how to work safely in a harsh environment—stepping stones to future exploration. The Moon also offers many clues about the time when the planets were formed.

Scientists at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California are developing a spacecraft they’ll deliberately crash into the Moon as part of an attempt to find water. A second craft will fly through the lunar dust plume released from the crash and send data back to Earth for analysis. NASA plans to return astronauts to the Moon by 2018 as a stepping stone on the way to Mars. Because it’s very expensive to launch materials into space (as much as $15,000 per pound to the Moon), it would be a great advantage to astronauts to have a water supply already in place on the Moon. Two previous lunar missions -- Clementine in 1994 and Lunar Prospector in 1998 -- found indirect but not conclusive evidence of water. Your challenge will be to design a lunar impact simulator and determine the optimal impact angle to give us the most information from the crash.

See the calendar below for planning purposes. Prepare for the Challenge with some background references to learn about some of the missions that have gone before. A Educators' Guide is available in MS Word and .pdf formats. To browse additional information about this mission and read news as it breaks, visit the main LCROSS site,

Calendar of Events

February 2008

Registration begins!

After you have registered for the HiRISE Image Targeting Challenge you will be receive an email giving you information on how to access the pre-challenge survey for you students. The pre-survey and post-survey help us to evaluate the impact of our challenges. We will also be requesting teacher evaluations at the end of the challenge.

Note: If you have registered before February 12, and have not received an email welcoming you to the event, it could be that you entered your email incorrectly on the registration. Please send an email to Linda so that we may correct our records.


Begin preparation, understanding:

  • What the LCROSS mission is all about.
  • Why we are re-visiting this type of impact on the moon.
  • What variables will determine the best, most controlable impactor?
  • What angle and other conditions would create the most usable scientific data

(Educator Guides are available online in MS Word and .pdf format when you have completed the pre-challenge survey.)
See also links to other online resources for research purposes.

Archive of
March 5, 2008
Webcast Webcast icon

See the archive of the Opening Webcast. Meet team members Tony Colaprete and Jennifer Heldmann and find out about the LCROSS project and how to begin your participation. Room is now open so that you may test your ability to receive the video and send any questions to

Begin your designs.

Meet the Team

Meet the team through their online bios.

March 31

Preliminary designs were posted as received
Experts evaluated and offer suggestions to designs that are received by deadline.

May 5

Final design submissions received
For help on how to send your preliminary designs, see Sending Materials for the Website
Final designs will be posted as received

May 9
Final Webcast:
@ 10:30 a.m. PDT
(1:30 p.m. EDT,
1730 GMT)

Webcast icon



Join us in this live webcast featuring expert comments on student designs. If you cannot make the hour of the webcast, place your questions in the chat room early. We will archive the webcast as soon as possible after the webcast.

Archive is online for viewing

May 2008


Post-Challenge Student Survey is now closed.

Teacher Reaction Survey is now closed.

 FirstGov  NASA

Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: October 2008