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[i]This summer, backyard astronomers may be able to peer through their telescopes and see what happens when a spacecraft smashes into the moon. The impact will be no accident: With an eye to sending humans back to the moon as early as 2020, NASA is on a collision course with Earth's nearest neighbor to learn about potential landing sites for astronauts who may touch down there again -- only much more gently.
Like a bullet hitting sand, the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, is expected to plow into a deep, dark crater on the moon's north pole. The impact should kick up at least 220 tons of lunar material -- enough to fill 10 school buses -- composed of dust, soil, and possibly water in the form of ice or hydrated minerals. The visible portion of the debris plume is expected to rise about six miles above the surface.[/i]
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