NASA projectile fails to create large cloud

    A NASA projectile slammed into the moon Friday as part of an exploration for water. But things didn’t go exactly as planned.

    A NASA projectile slammed into the moon Friday as part of an exploration for water. But things didn’t go exactly as planned.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091009sbmoon.mp3]

    The impact of the Centaur Rocket, which hit the south pole of the moon, was supposed to kick up a cloud of space dust six miles high.

    Then, illuminated by the sun for the first time in billions of years, it would be analyzed to see if and in what proportion it contained oxygen and hydrogen molecules.

    But Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrek Pitts says the cloud of debris didn’t reach nearly that height.

    Pitts: What we do hope, though is that there was enough ejecta blasted off the surface that the spectrometers on the follow-on spacecraft would be able to do the data analysis.

    Pitts says that information is likely to come within the next few days.

    Water on the moon would be valuable for NASA, which could use it to produce air for a possible lunar base, or process it into rocket fuel.

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