On Friday, an unmanned spacecraft crashed into the moon. Citadel scientists monitored the multi-million dollar school bus sized spacecraft to determine if there was water on the moon. Citadel Assistant Physics Professor Luke Sollitt is part of NASA’s LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite) mission to the moon team and says it’s a great opportunity for him.
“It means a great deal to me. This has been an absolutely a marvelous thing for me because I get to tell people that I smash things into the moon, how great is that? But, yeah, for me it is very gratifying and a wonderful thing that something that started out as an idea to which I can actually lay some claim is going to actually hit the moon,” says Sollitt.
The spacecraft slammed into the moon at approximately 7:30 a.m. Friday, and purposely crashed into the South Pole of the moon to kick up sand and dust, determining if there is water. And if there is?
“If there’s water there then the obvious next question is where does it come from, how much is it, how deep is it? We’re going to be opening up a whole new avenue of research into what we think might be on the moon. The other big question is going to be: if we can find a very high concentration area of water on the moon, this might be a resource for astronauts later on when they actually try to build a base there,” says Sollitt.
This mission doesn’t just benefit Sollitt, he says it’s great for The Citadel as well.
“The Citadel gets to go to the moon. That’s kind of fun, I’m not sure most institutions can lay that kind of claim. So, from the Citadel’s point-of-view they’ve got a new mission to their credit. As far as other things we’ll have to see what comes of it,” says Sollitt.