>> Hello, and welcome to the
closing webcast of the NASA Quest "Exploration Through Navigation:
Voyages Acrss Sea and Space" webcast.
Today marks the end of our most recent task of charting a course
to the Moon.
My name is Rebecca Green.
I am here with three other key individuals at the NASA Ames Research
Center in northern California.
First we have Linda Conrad, the challenge coordinator and she'll
be fielding your questions today.
Be sure and submit your questions right away so we have time
to answer as many as possible at the end of the webcast.
We also have Brian Day with us.
He's an astronomer and expert on the LCROSS mission.
Today Brian will be giving us updates on that mission as well
as pointers related to the navigation plans that you've submitted.
We also have Mr. Andrew Chaikin with us.
He's an author, science journalist and space enthusiast and been
the mastermind behind the weekly challenge questions and the problem
situation that you were given in early April.
So today Andy is going to give comments on all of the navigation
plans that we've received and offer some feedback on the work
that you've done.
I want to welcome Brian and Andy and Linda off to the side.
Before we get into the navigation plan review let's look at this
challenge and see what it's been all about.
Some of you may have participated with us in the fall of 2008
where we did part I of our challenge.
This was charting the course at sea.
During this part you had to navigate a ship across the Pacific
ocean from Hawaii to Rapa Nui.
Nearly a 5,000 mile journey.
You learned about different navigation skills such as looking
at the stars, the motions of the Sun and Moon and landmarks, sea
marks, weather patterns, etc.
Then we progressed on to the second part of our challenge, charting
the course to the Moon.
And in this particular challenge we learned about several things
such as gravity, Newton's laws of motion, rockets, orbits.
If we could -- we're looking at our next slide now.
We have several different images here representing some of the
things you've been exploring over the past several months.
And then what we want to do briefly is take a look at how these
two parts of the challenge connect.
So we have a brief compare and contrast that we want to do.
If we look at Earth navigation we had weather, clouds, animals.
In space we've learned that gravity, orbital trajectory have
helped us navigate in space.
One thing they have in common is celestial navigation.
The movement of the Moon and the Sun and the stars can help us
whether we're in space or on Earth.
We can navigate our way.
Let's talk about that for a minute.
Brian and Andy do you have any thoughts about you have navigating
on Earth versus outer space are similar and different?
>> Good point.
One of the things that we've grown very used to when we do our
navigating around just in general daily life is having something
like a GPS or maybe a compass.
But in the case of the Polynesia navigators long ago they had
neither of those.
In the case of our space travelers today, when you go out into
space and leave the Earth behind your compass no longer works,
you leave the Earth behind your GPS no longer works.
So in a lot of ways our adventures into space today have some
very important parallels with the types of navigation that happened
when the Polynesians spread out across the Pacific basin.
>> That's right.
And I think it's neat to think about the fact that even though
we live on the Earth and we don't think of ourselves as being
space travelers while we're here on Earth, we are space travelers
and the Earth is a planet.
It is a celestial object just like the Moon and the stars, and
so even though the Polynesians were using the stars on Earth and
space travelers use the stars for navigation while they're in
space, they're the same methods.
They're the same fixed celestial bodies that give us our reference
points and allow us to get from one part of the Earth to another
or one planet to another.
So let's go ahead and take a look at some of the navigation plans
that we've received.
We received 17 navigation plans that represent 400 students across
So let's take a look at them.
Let's start here with our first navigation plan and give some
We've got the workman orbiters from miss Jamison's sixth grade
I want to say everybody did a great job, everybody put in a lot
of effort and the creativity and thought that went into these
plans really comes through.
With the workman orbiters I'll say as I go to each one I'll say
something that I really liked in each case.
I thought the name lunar eclipse was a great name for the spacecraft
and also a very nice chart showing that they are going to aim
for not where the Moon is now when they leave Earth but where
the Moon will be when they arrive there.
I thought that was very nicely thought out.
Next we have Allen's full throttle flyers from miss Purell and
miss Allen's group.
They had some very nice graphics in their presentation and intrigued
by the name of their spacecraft, the 14th source.
I'm going to suggest they send an email explaining how they got
that name because that intrigued me.
Next we have the nerdy Moon missioners from Ms. Purell and Ms.
-- I like the design they have for the unmanned rocket they have
to send their spacecraft to the Moon.
Next we have Purell's water seekers from Ms. Purell's sixth grade
I like the reference to Apollo in their name.
I'm a big Apollo fan and I liked that they were tagging up with
Apollo and calling it Apollo, 2009.
We have the homeschool, guess what they chose for their spacecraft
I think it was the most unusual of any of the names.
A name that makes me hungry because it's I believe it's a spinach
pie in Greek cuisine.
I like the fact they mentioned the DeLaval nozzle which is a
very important part of any rocket.
The pinched nozzle that causes the exhaust gases to accelerate
as they leave the engine.
Very cool stuff.
Next up we've got a fifth grade class in Savannah heights, intermediate.
They had a nice diagram with their navigation and all the stars
that they were going to site on as their navigation references
going from the Earth to the Moon.
Next up we've got Ms. Roger's seventh grade class and Julian
Very nice graphic of their orbits that they're going to use on
their flight path to the Moon.
Next we have the fifth grade from or liens elementary, miss courier's
They mentioned the home and transfer orbit, a minimum energy
tab used to go from the Earth to the Moon on many missions.
That was a good thought.
And they had great artwork of their rocket.
I really liked the work that they did on that, too.
Now we go to the seventh grade class in Romania, the silver stars.
They even had a flash animation of their rocket going from the
Earth to the Moon.
I thought that was a lot of fun.
After that we have the ninth grade I class.
They had a detailed mission design, a lot of thought went into
the design of their mission.
I like the fact that they mention several of -- several of you
mentioned that it is a good idea to launch from the Earth's equator
because that is where the rotation speed of the Earth is highest
and you get the biggest boost from the Earth's rotation itself.
So nice job there.
Now we have the ninth F class and they had a nice name.
They called their spacecraft TARAGINA which is latin meaning
created out of the Earth.
It was a nice choice and good idea on the mission plan.
Next we have an eighth grade from St. Joseph school and nice
detail there on the navigation instrument.
Really a lot of thought and naming all the different instruments
that be used to help navigate from the Earth to the Moon.
Okay, now we have the Moon dusters.
That's a fifth grade at sunrise elementary.
They had some great artwork showing their rocket and their spacecraft,
really nicely done.
Now we have the fifth grade from commodore elementary school,
Ms. shock's class.
I like the fact that they were going to have a super computer
on the spacecraft to help track the position.
I think that's a good thing to carry along if you can manage
Now we have Ms. Bell's eighth grade science, Kristin and Tyson
and they an interesting spacecraft name, the NUM2 K-9.
I like that one.
Another one from Ms. bell's eighth grade science with Emily,
very use of the orbit and you see it there in the diagram.
The EL GALROW is the course the LCROSS is going the take when
it goes to the Moon.
And finally we have Ms. Dunbar's class at SEIGERT elementary.
I thought they had a very nice NASA type of name.
In NASA it's common to name a project or spacecraft using several
words and then you take the first letter of each of those word
and it makes the name, called an acronym.
They have an acronym.
Their name is impacting Moon positioning adventure crater trajectory.
It spells impact.
They're thinking like NASA does when they name their spacecraft.
Everybody, I want to say great work and thanks for all of your
thought and your effort and we'll look forward to talking with
We're going to have some more detailed feedback up on the website
in the next couple of weeks and also many of you did answer the
mid-challenge question that we had, the problem that we called
And your teachers actually have the solution to that problem
in their teacher's guide, so check with them and they have the
>> One of the things that was really very interesting to
see in looking through these designs was that there were some
-- certainly some differences in the navigational paths that you
chose to get to the Moon.
That was very much the case, too, when we did the first navigation
challenge and people had different routes to get from Hawaii to
Rapa Nui and that was again the case here with the Moon.
And going through your designs they fell into basically three
We had some missions that would go from the Earth and go to the
Moon, some of you specified using a transfer orbit and then getting
to the Moon going into lunar orbit before descending to the surface
of the Moon.
We had another group of missions that did what we call direct
to the Moon.
So going directly from the Earth to the Moon, not going into
orbit around the Moon.
Just once you get there you have your impact, ka boom.
Then we have the third group that took what we call the LGARO
Lunar gravity assist and lunar return orbit.
Three different methods.
That's very good to see because, quite frankly, we have, with
NASA missions, used all three methods and we certainly looked
at all three of these methods when we were planning the LCROSS
Now, with LCROSS we decided on the LGALRO approach.
Why is that?
Let's look at what happens when we would go into lunar orbit
before descending to the surface.
So if you have a spacecraft that is in lunar orbit, it is going
in a circle around the Moon and it is essentially moving, as you
can see, parallel to the surface of the Moon as it goes around.
Now, it turns out when you fire the engines on your rocket to
descend toward the surface of the Moon, what happens is that means
that instead of just dropping right down to the surface of the
Moon, what happens is you just make your orbit into a smaller
circle and the more you fire your engines to lower yourself, what
happens is you just get a lower and lower circle around the Moon.
>> But the direction of your motion is still parallel to
>> That's right.
You're still going to be going parallel.
Now, our first adventure at impacting the south pole of the Moon
which happened with the lunar prospector did exactly this.
What some of you proposed is what happened with the lunar prospecting
As we got lower and lower we were going parallel with the surface.
When we got low enough instead of coming in straight like this
we came skitering along the surface.
>> The speed of the impact, the downward part of the speed
was not that big.
>> That meant that we didn't have probably the most efficient
means of excavating.
Those of you who participated in our very first challenge remember
that we looked at that whole idea of angle of entrance.
How steep you come in and how effective that is.
Now, another option is the what we call direct to the Moon.
So if Rebecca is the Earth and we're coming from the Earth to
the Moon and want an impact near the equator that works well.
You come in straight and hit at a nice straight angle.
If you're coming from the Earth toward the pole of the Moon look
You end up coming in almost parallel to the surface.
Again, that's probably not the best way to do excavation.
So with the LGALRO what we ended up doing is you do a fly-by
of the Moon and use the Moon's gravity to sling you into a very
steep orbit up out of the plane of the Moon's orbit and it goes
We'll take a look at this.
We have good pictures of this later on.
But the result is that when the spacecraft meets up with the
Moon again, it is going to be coming in at a very steep angle
relative to the Moon's pole.
That's why we chose that for the LCROSS mission.
It is important to keep in mind that isn't the only way to get
to the Moon.
That isn't the only right answer.
The LRO mission, the launching along with LCROSS is going to
be going into lunar orbit.
The critical thing to keep in mind here is that the two missions
are studying the Moon in a different way.
LCROSS is going to be impacting the pole of the Moon whereas
LRO will go into orbit around the Moon and map it.
And so because they have different tasks, because they're doing
their science in different ways, their paths in getting to the
Moon are different.
And if there is one real key learning to come out of this whole
study that you've just done it's just that, as you design a mission
and you look at how you are going to be studying it, the Moon,
or Mars, what you are doing, the task that you are doing is very,
very, very closely tied to the path that you take to get there.
As you design the mission, the path that you design is very,
very, very much a part of what you are doing when you get there.
>> Brian, why don't you mention just a few of the instruments
that LCROSS will actually have in helping it follow that path
for staying on its course.
>> We talked about celestial navigation earlier.
We talked about the deep space network earlier.
The deep space network is going to be a very critical part of
our navigation and making sure that we are on course and moving
the right direction.
A very exciting part of that is that we have students in grade
school through high school who will actually be using one of the
big deep space network dishes to help monitor the health and status
of our spacecraft as it is in flight.
But also on board the spacecraft to help with attitude control,
we have a number of instruments that go back to what we had talked
about earlier and let's see, I don't think we can quite see it
here but there is -- you can see sticking right off the edge,
maybe there is a little bit of a thing sticking down here, this
is a star tracker.
We also have Sun sensors located around various parts of the
And these are used to make sure that we are keeping our attitudinal
control correct so that we're pointing in the right direction.
That's a key factor as you're traveling.
It is not just where you are, the direction you're going, but
also making sure that the antennas are pointing to the Earth to
maintain communication, making sure this big solar power unit
here is pointed at the Sun because while we need that in order
to keep the spacecraft alive.
So attitude control is very important.
We're using the positions of the stars and Sun to help us do
>> Very nice.
It might be an interesting point to show our audience that on
this model, the LCROSS spacecraft itself is actually a pretty
Brian, would you like to give the short explanation of what the
LCROSS is made of and how that came to be?
>> Real quick here.
We're launching again with the lunar reconnaissance orbiter,
it came along first.
But because we are going to be flying on an Atlas V rocket, it
turns out we had some extra carrying capacity.
And so that was the Genesis of the LCROSS mission.
So the LRO would actually sit on top.
So here is the center upper stage of our Moon rocket.
Here is the LCROSS probe itself and then you have LRO that sits
And LCROSS is occupying a place that is commonly called a payload
That payload adapter ring sits between the upper stage and your
main payload that you're taking into space.
That's been something that has been on a number of these space
crafts and instead of designing something completely brand-new
for a spacecraft, the engineers at Northrup Grumman came up with
an idea of using the payload adapter ring as the center of our
It is already going up there.
We've already got that made.
It's been certified to fly.
Let's use that payload adapter ring as the central piece of our
Then we put a fuel tank in the center.
You mount your instrumentation around the edge, put some thrusters
and you're ready to go.
>> You have a spacecraft.
>> A very neat design.
>> LRO, when it goes into space on top of that, won't it?
>> Very nice.
Okay, well, before we get an update on the LCROSS mission are
there any other final comments or suggestions that we should offer
to our groups regarding their navigation plans?
>> You know, everybody thought carefully about it and there
were a couple of places where, you know, they had some ideas that
maybe don't quite work with the real world constraints that we
all have to deal with in the space business.
We'll give a little bit more detail on that as we put a bit more
detailed feedback on the website but this is meant to be a learning
It is meant to get you guys to all be creative and put your ideas
out there and it's not the end of the world if you have an idea
that isn't 100% right.
The idea is that you take part in it and you have fun doing it
and everybody did that.
We're very happy about that.
>> That's a very good point because that's not just something
that happens in your classroom.
That happens in real life.
If you take a look at the original proposed design of pretty
much any space mission and then you end up looking at what it
ends up looking like at the very end, you'll see that there oftentimes
are some fairly significant changes.
As you go along you realize that wow, what we initially thought
maybe isn't really the best way to do it.
And so it really is just like it has been for you and it is for
the scientists and engineers here, it is a learning process.
>> Excellent, yeah, I think you've hit the right word.
It is definitely a process, not just a single, straight forward
So let's hear a little bit about where the LCROSS mission is
and how the students in our audience can continue to participate.
>> Very good, thank you.
We're at a very exciting time.
We're talking to you now in May.
And just next month we are expecting to have something very interesting
happening down at the Cape.
We're planning to launch, finally, this is great.
This is exciting.
That's one of the more fun parts of a mission, that launch is
pretty neat to watch.
And we'll make sure you get the chance to do so.
Let's talk about what is happening.
The next slide, please.
So how are we going to launch?
We're going to use an Atlas V rocket.
The Atlas family of rockets have been around for a long time
as you may get by the name, this is the fifth generation of the
Early Atlas rockets were used back in the mercury days when astronauts
like John Glenn went into orbit.
The NASA uses of the Atlas have continued since then and with
the Atlas V rocket we've sent spacecraft such as the Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter to Mars and the new horizons mission to Pluto and beyond
to the KYPER belt.
This is a rocket with a fair amount of history.
Where are we launching from?
We are launching from space launch complex 41 at Cape Canaveral
And this again is a fairly historic place.
A lot of exploration has gone from this launch pad, the Helios
probes to the Sun were launched from there.
The Viking probes to Mars.
>> First landings on Mars, very exciting.
>> Neat stuff.
Of course, the Voyager planetary fly by and deep space probes
and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as well as the new horizons
spacecraft to Pluto and the KYPER belt.
A lot has happened at this launch complex and we're looking forward
to another exciting launch.
>> I like the fact we're taking off from a launch pad that
has had so much exploration associated with it.
This mission is a very important milestone in the exploration
of the Moon.
>> So what's happening down there?
Well, the Atlas V first stage has arrived.
It comes in on a large cargo aircraft and so that has already
And it has been taken to a big tall building right next to the
This building is called the vertical integration facility.
And here you see a picture of an Atlas V first stage booster
arrived at the vertical integration facility.
>> It comes in on its side.
It comes in on a kind of a truck on its side and then later they
will turn it vertical.
>> In fact, let's see a picture of that.
Here it is being lifted up into the vertical position inside
this vertical integration facility is where the different components
of the spacecraft get stacked.
They get stacked in a vertical position.
So the first thing is we're lifting this first stage into the
There you can see it in the upright position.
Next comes the center upper stage.
>> I want to point out, look at the size of the rocket
compared to the people.
It really gives you an idea of how big these rockets are.
>> You can see the walkways around the rocket in the background
there and so now the upper stage gets lifted up on top of the
That has now happened.
Then what's going to happen, hasn't happened yet, will be that
the top payload, that's LCROSS and LRO, will then get stacked
on top of the centaur.
That is going to be happening very soon.
Once all that is done and everything is hooked up and fueled
and ready to go, then the whole stack rolls out on a train track
from the vertical integration facility out to the launch pad.
And it is surrounded by a series of vans and trailers that provide
electricity and communications and all the necessary things that
the spacecraft needs to stay alive as it rolls out to the launch
>> That's a beautiful thing to look at, isn't it?
>> We're looking forward to this.
So next month in June we are going to have a launch.
That means that we are looking forward to an October impact.
And we will be targeting the south pole of the Moon.
And again, the route we're taking to get there is called LGALRO.
Lunar gravity assist, we do the Moon's gravity to swing us into
the series of large looping orbits around the Moon's system.
38 days just to make one of those loops.
We'll make several of them.
The idea being when we meet up with the Moon again, we'll do
so at that nice, steep angle relatively to the pole.
So what else is going to be happening during this time?
Well, some really exciting stuff.
Again as we mentioned students are going to actually be helping
us with this mission.
They are going to be using one of the giant 34-meter dishes,
DSS13 dish at gold stone.
This is through our partnership with the Goldstone Apple Valley
radio telescope program run by the Lewis center for educational
These students are going to be monitoring our spacecraft in flight.
Very exciting opportunity.
But then toward the end of the mission, we have that impact.
And that is going to be an especially exciting time.
One of the things that we think is that that impact may well
be visible in amateur telescopes.
So we're encouraging people with backyard telescopes and tools
with telescopes to get out there and participate.
To observe the impact.
If you're capable of taking pictures through your telescope,
please take pictures of the south pole of the Moon when we do
If you can get images of the impact cloud, we would love to see
The more data we have, the better our understanding will be.
So this is an opportunity to actually participate in the science
of the mission.
>> Of course, not everybody in the country will have a
view of the Moon at the time of the impact, so you'll need to
-- where will they find out about whether they can actually see
the impact from their location?
>> That's a very good point.
The exact timing of the impact is going to be critical.
Will it be in the sky, will it be during the night for your particular
And go to www.NASA.gov/LCROSS to find out.
After we've launched we'll be able to keep you posted on some
Now, even if the impact is not visible in your sky, that don't
mean you're going to miss it.
Because as is the case with the launch and will be the case of
the impact, you can watch it either on TV if you have NASA TV,
tune in there, and if you don't, go to www.NASA.gov and you can
see what is an NASA TV streamed to your computer.
>> In fact, we'll be having a little sort of web event
of our own that you can tune into to kind of help you get prepared
and all excited about the impact and then we'll be standing by
as the impact takes place.
>> So please keep your eyes open.
This is going to be fun.
>> For the exciting things going on this summer we certainly
have the LCROSS mission that we'll be launching Andy, what else
do we have happening this summer?
>> This summer is the 40th anniversary of the very first
Moon landing with people, Apollo 11.
It will be a time when we're looking back at the really amazing
and momentous explorations that took place when we first sent
humans to the Moon back in the late 60s, early 70s and was a tremendous
achievement for the technology of space exploration, a tremendous
human adventure for the people who got to go to the Moon and tell
us what that experience was like and also for all the people that
worked on the project to be part of that was tremendously exciting.
It told us so much about the Moon that we never knew before.
In fact, from the Apollo missions we've been able to piece together
the idea of how the Moon was actually created.
We think there was a gigantic impact that struck the Earth and
blasted stuff out of the young Earth very shortly after it was
formed and that that debris went into space and eventually came
together to form the Moon.
So all of this is part of the detective work of science that
we were able to do because of the information and the rock samples
and the other data that was brought back from the Apollo missions.
So we're looking back on a historic time for lunar exploration,
even as we look ahead and we take part in this new example of
>> For those of you who happen to be in the northern California
area on Sunday, July 19th, we'll be having our MoonFest event
here at NASA Ames.
And what we will be doing is we will be celebrating the 40th
anniversary of the Apollo mission, first landing on the Moon,
as well as the upcoming LCROSS impact and then future exploration
of the Moon.
We're doing this in conjunction with the NASA lunar science institute.
So the LCROSS mission and NASA lunar science institute are getting
together to bring you a day of exploring NASA lunar exploration
here at NASA Ames.
You're welcome to join us.
>> I might just insert here, Brian, if they want to see
the invitation they can go to quest.nasa.gov and there is a full-sized
invitation there for them.
>> Very good.
Thank you, Linda.
>> So in speaking of the Moon, in case you're not aware
we have an exciting drawing associated with this space navigation
For those of you whose teacher filled out our preand post surveys.
We'll talk about them before we sign off today.
For those in the classes who also submitted a navigation plan
we'll enter your class's name into a drawing for an actual slice
of a Moon rock.
Let's take a look at that slice of Moon rock.
Brian, can you tell us a little bit about this sample?
So this is a piece of actual rock from the Moon.
It is basically a kind of lava rock.
But it comes to us in the form of a meteorite.
This was not brought back to us by the Apollo astronauts.
The Moon is covered with crater and has gotten battered for millions
A number of those impacts blow pieces of the Moon off the surface
and out into space.
And some of those pieces of the Moon make their way to the Earth
and actually land here on the Earth in the form of lunar meteorites.
This is an example of just such a thing.
This is actually what is called the NWA4734 lunar meteorite.
How is that for an exciting name?
NWA means northwest Africa.
That's where it was recovered.
It was recovered in the deserts of Morocco and found in October
This is again an actual piece of the Moon that those people who
participate and whose teachers fill out our final evaluation will
be able to become part of the drawing for this.
Now, in addition because the fact of the matter is we got some
really great participation here.
And so we decided, you know, we need some additional prizes here.
So in addition to the Moon rock, we have two other samples that
we are going to be entering into a drawing and these are tektites.
>> Tektites were a mystery for scientists for a long
time and as we learn more about impacts and the violence that
impacts produce, they create so much energy that they actually
blast stuff off the ground and sometimes if it's a really big
impact, it can actually blast material from the surface of a planet
And we think that tektites are examples of that that happened
by impact on the Earth long ago in geologic history when an asteroid
struck the Earth with so much force that some of the material,
some of the debris that was ejected, probably in molten form,
in liquid form was heated so much and melted.
Went into space, may have gone around the Earth a couple of times
or maybe not quite a full orbit but did go into space and re-entered
the Earth's atmosphere and fell back on the Earth.
So we think that tektites are ejected material from huge impacts
that happened on the Earth.
>> We have two of those that will be in our drawing, too.
Three lucky classrooms are going to come out with some pretty
interesting material to have in their classroom.
>> Space rocks
>> Those will be great.
That will be a really neat asset to any classroom.
So we're going to move on to the Q and A portion of your webcast.
Your chance to ask questions about space travel, navigation,
the Moon, what have you.
Linda, what do we have so far in our chatroom?
>> We have quite a few, actually.
Andre from our romaineian school writes over the years is it
possible to create artificial gravitation on the Moon?
If we can, what instruments do we have to improve and due to
what theory are we able to do this?
And if not, on what things should we base our research?
>> Well, you know, it's not necessary to create artificial
gravity on the Moon because the Moon already has gravity.
It is 1/6 of what the gravity is here, so -- but that's enough
to keep things down on the surface.
And, in fact, it is actually a lot of fun to go to the Moon because
the gravity is only 1/6 of what it is here and everything weighs
1/6 of what it would on Earth.
I don't see a need to create artificial gravity.
I don't know how you would do that short of adding more stuff
to the Moon.
>> If you were going to do an experiment where you needed
more than the 1/6 gravity on the Moon, then you would probably
do something similar to what we've done on a number of our orbital
missions is you would employ a centrifuge.
By spinning something around in a circle, you can create that
force that will replicate the varying amount of gravity.
>> And actually there is a really interesting question
that we're going to need to solve if we're going to have people
living on other planets.
And that is, how much gravity is actually necessary to keep a
We know that if a person is in weightlessness for very long periods
of time that they lose minerals from their bones, they lose strength
from their muscles and so forth that can harm the immune system
on the body.
So we want to be able to expose astronauts to a certain amount
of gravity either by spinning the spacecraft as it travels through
space or something like that.
But we don't know how much gravity is required to allow the body
to do the normal things that it does on Earth.
And one way that we might find that out is to go to a place like
the Moon, study how people react to 1/6 gravity and then maybe
as Brian is saying we could use a centrifuge to increase the gravity
very slightly, maybe while they sleep and monitor their body functions
while they're sleeping and what happens to their bones and their
muscles, and so the Moon might end up being part of a laboratory
that helps us figure that question out.
A question from Christian.
What else besides water can be extracted from the lunar soil?
>> Great question.
There are quite a few things.
One thing that we would, of course, be very interested in is
Now, hydrogen, if we do find deposits of water ice on the Moon
that is a great source of hydrogen right there but hydrogen also
is probably enriching lunar soil in the form of the solar wind.
We think of it sounds funny a wind in space.
There is this wind of hydrogen particles and atoms coming off
the Sun and embedding themselves into the soil of the Moon.
>> It is not a wind that is strong enough to help your
I won't say who suggested that one but you have to rethink that
because the solar wind is not a real wind that you could use to
steer your rocket.
Just wanted to throw that in there.
>> People are looking aren't looking at solar sails.
>> You're using light, not the solar wind.
The solar wind -- the Sun does pour out these sub atomic particles
from all its solar flares and those particles go racing through
Because the Moon has no atmosphere there is nothing to stop those
particles from hitting the Moon where they get trapped in the
dust of the Moon.
So we think that hydrogen and other things from the Sun, we would
find them mixed in with the lunar dust.
>> We also know that in some of the minerals on the surface
of the Moon there is oxygen.
So if you really needed to extract oxygen in some way other than
from water, you can do that by heating the rocks on the surface
of the Moon to about 700 degrees Celsius.
>> Which you could do by focusing if you wanted to, you
could focus sunlight with a mirror, the sunlight on the Moon is
very strong and you could use a mirror to make the temperature
high enough to do that.
>> We're also finding on the surface of the Moon that there
are metals such as titanium.
There are a number of interesting potential resources on the
>> Lunar dust may turn out to be a building material all
There are people who have studied how you might use Moon dust
to make a form of concrete that you could then build structures
Mrs. Purell's water seekers want to know if you find water on
the Moon, how long will it be until humans live there or go there?
>> That is an excellent question.
That's actually a question that a lot of people are trying to
answer right now.
And we're doing this by these early robotic missions to the Moon.
What we're doing is we're trying to learn more about the Moon.
It is really kind of funny, the Moon is so much closer to us
than Mars is, but we know much more about the surface of Mars
than we do about our own Moon.
That clearly has to change.
And so now a series of robotic spacecraft, LCROSS is one of them
but then you have the lunar reconnaissance orbiter and you have
spacecraft from other countries, too.
This has actually become a very exciting and busy time at the
For a number of years the Moon got to be a pretty lonely place
after Apollo but that's changed right now.
Japan has a mission orbiting the Moon right now.
India has a mission.
China recently had a mission.
The European space agency recently had a mission and we're about
to have two missions here.
So we are going to try and answer some really fundamental questions
about the Moon that will help us to try and figure out what our
next steps are going to be in terms of lunar exploration.
In doing so, we're talking with a lot of these other countries
that are launching missions to the Moon.
We're sharing information and we're going to work together to
answer these critical questions because again, it's in our own
backyard but there is so much about the Moon that we just don't
know right now.
>> And the Moon is really kind of a museum for the earliest
history of the stole -- solar system.
There is no other world in the solar system that can tell us
what the Moon can tell us about the earliest part of the solar
>> The nerdy Moon missioners have sort of a progressive
How long did it take to arrange the LCROSS mission all the way
from planning to building to implementing?
What will happen to the mission if you don't find water on the
And what will happen to the rocket -- what will happen to the
rocket on the LCROSS mission if it misses the Moon completely?
>> Wow, well, we certainly hope that doesn't happen.
So a three-part question.
Let's try to take this in order.
How long did all of this take?
That's a really interesting story.
Because the LCROSS mission was first proposed in early 2006.
And it had to be ready for launch by October 28th of 2008.
That's not a lot of time and then you had to be able to fly the
Basically, you know, it was a really short period of time.
>> It sounds like what do you mean, that's over two years?
Two years to design a mission?
Think of all the work you've just put into putting together your
And there was a whole lot of design work but then you had a bunch
of engineers in southern California who broke is spacecraft, they
had to design and build the spacecraft.
Designers and engineers at Ames who designed and built the instruments
that will study the plume.
You have a lot of people at Goddard space flight center and JPL
who are helping to design trajectories.
You know from your own experience that trajectory is a really
important part of the mission.
And then you have a lot of people at Kennedy Space Center who
are putting together this whole process of getting this thing
That's a lot of work.
In just a little, you know, two, three years' time, wow, that's
a very short time for a Moon mission.
The second part of the question was what happens if we don't
And we get asked that a lot.
Does that mean the mission is a failure?
Again, what we just talked about there is so much about the Moon
that we don't know.
Now, we've had some previous missions, lunar prospector and Clementine
that there may -- want to emphasize that -- may be deposits of
water ice at the poles of the Moon.
But different people look at that data in different ways.
Some people look at the data and say look at that, it's water.
And other people look at that and they go, I don't think so.
And it is a fundamental question.
As long as we're using this what we call remote sensing technology.
Using neutron spectrometers to look from a far distance, there
are kinds of different ways to interpret the data.
>> What we really need to do is essentially get our hands
wet, if you will, and so--
>> Or at least dirty.
>> Basically go in there and take what is at the bottom
of these permanently shadowed craters, get it into the sunlight
where we can see it and study it and see what's really there.
So we will be happy either way.
We'll be happy to be able to help answer that question.
So from our point of view, there is no bad data.
Now again, one thing that would be really bad is what happens
if you miss the Moon?
Well, again, fortunately we have a really, really talented group
of incredibly smart people here who are doing everything they
can to make sure that we have the best chance possible to actually
impact the Moon.
Now, I would say that our chances are looking pretty good.
If you look at some of the past missions to Mars, there have
been some instances where some of the times you miss.
But Mars is a lot further away.
It is a remarkably hard target to get to.
That's one of the advantages of exploring an object that is essentially,
in terms of space, in our own backyard.
So we are optimistic that we'll see something hitting the Moon
come this October.
>> Very nice.
I did want to reiterate what you were pointing out, Brian, in
the first part of the question that it does take a lot of different
types of people to make a mission happen.
So we have the engineers who are helping design the rocket and
the spacecraft, mounting all the instruments.
We have spectrometers, cameras, all sorts of things on board.
We also have the scientists who are going to be collecting that
data and analyzing it.
Then we have project managers, people that have to manage the
We have education, public outreach.
All sorts of people who are involved in a mission so keep that
Think about your own personal interest and the things that you
like to do and more likely than not there is probably some connection
to the types of jobs that are connected to a NASA mission.
>> We have artists working on this to help us visualize
what is going to be happening.
We have quite a few more questions and very little time so Allen's
full throttle flyers wants to know.
Some of it has been answered.
How did the idea of LCROSS mission come about.
What would happen if the spacecraft went off course and hit an
asteroid, and what does a gravitational slingshot do?
>> Three good questions.
How did it come about?
He came about again because the LRO mission, which had been planned
for quite some time, got its launch vehicle changed and upgraded
to the Atlas V.
The Atlas V has additional carrying capacity.
So now here is this extra room and power on a launch vehicle
that is going to the Moon and rather than just have that go to
waste, NASA said here is this great opportunity.
If you can come up with a design for a mission that meets these
certain specifications for weight limits and also specifications
for budget limits, then you have the chance of going to the Moon.
So everybody went into mad proposal writing mode and NASA had
a competition and LCROSS ended up winning the competition.
Second part of the question was what happens if we hit an asteroid?
Well, that would be pretty darn amazing.
Missing the Moon would be a really bad thing but if you're going
to miss the Moon and end up hitting an asteroid we'll take that
as a consolation prize.
>> We'd settle for that.
>> That really fortunately seems very unlikely.
Again, the Moon is bigger.
>> A bigger target than any of the asteroids anywhere near
the Earth right now and as Andy says, it is closer.
>> Occasionally there are asteroids that come whizzing
by closer to us than the Moon but hitting one, if you're trying
to hit the Moon you won't hit an asteroid.
>> So we consider that to be a very unlikely scenario.
>> I'm looking at several different questions that ask
how long did it take you to build the rocket or how long did it
take you to put together the LCROSS mission and I think it's been
But you might want to talk about the -- they want to know whether
or not it's been worth it.
>> Has it been worth it?
First of all, from a number of points of view.
From one point of view in terms of the science that we expect
to gain from the mission.
We will learn more about the Moon but also more about the neighborhood
and the solar system in which we live.
The Earth's environment doesn't end with our atmosphere.
We live in a part of the solar system and the conditions in that
part of the solar system can have a profound effect on the Earth.
And so we want to know more about what is happening here in the
inner solar system and where can water form and continue to exist?
And where did that water come from?
Also the LCROSS mission has been very beneficial in terms of
looking at a new way of designing and building spacecraft.
Doing something in a very, very short time frame.
This is kind of a new way of looking at it.
And we've learned a lot from doing so.
So yeah, it's been worth it from a number of points of view.
>> That's great.
We have more questions but I'll remind you that Andy said there
will be more information on the website as we -- in the next couple
I think we're going to have to wrap up now because we're coming
to the end of the hour, Rebecca.
Well, as Linda said, our webcast is going to draw to a close,
so thank you, Linda, very much for fielding our questions and
before we do sign off I do want to thank Brian and Andy for joining
us today and give you a chance to offer any final comments or
suggestions to our audience.
>> I hope we've got some future Moon explorers that will
result from all of this participation in LCROSS.
This has been a very, very exciting and encouraging thing seeing
I think that the future of human space exploration is looking
pretty bright as long as we have bright, enthusiastic people like
you leading our way into the future.
Thank you very much.
>> And thank you to those of you who have tuned in live
with us today and for those of you who submitted the questions,
it's been fun working with you and receiving your navigation plans
and your ideas.
A special note to our teachers, we do look forward to getting
feedback from you in regard to how this challenge worked in your
There is going to be a post challenge evaluation posted on the
Please do go to that link and fill out the post evaluation to
It's important to us and helps us plan future challenges and
Remember there is the bonus of getting your name entered into
a drawing for the Moon samples.
So we hope that you'll take the five or ten minutes it takes
to fill out the post evaluation survey.
That concludes our webcast.
Thank you again for joining us.
We hope that you will participate in another Quest Challenge.
So always stay tuned to the website and see what's coming up
And enjoy -- we hope that you will continue to follow along with
the LCROSS mission and keep tabs on the progress of that as well.
So thanks again.