Journalism at its finest
Another excellent ring piece from El Reg.
A well-known moon has been smeared half-dark by dirt coming from an enormous ring, according to reports. Long-exposure shot of Iapetus, moon of Saturn, taken by the Cassini probe. Credit: NASA The dirt boundary of Iapetus. Science magazine has the story, quoting "ring specialist" Joseph Burns as saying: "It's nice to …
just wait till NASA bomb our moon tomorrow. then you'll see obscuring dust clouds...
NASA's LRCROSS plan to bomb the dark side of the moon at the South pole scheduled for October 8, 2009. The excuse given is that this is an effort to find water deep under lunar surface.
This is hardly the first time a spacecraft has been crashed into the moon deliberately. Guess what they did with the Lunar Module Ascent stages when they had finished with them. They got a lot of data on the internal structure of the moon by crashing them back. There have also been several spacecraft crashed in the last few years to try to get information about lunar water.
Anyway, there's all sorts of crap hitting the moon all the time. There was an asteroid strike photographed in the 50s that was a hell of a lot bigger than anything we've sent there.
'The excuse given is that this is an effort to find water deep under lunar surface.'
In which case you'll be horrified to know that we've been smashing things into the Moon since Luna 2 in 1959, including some pretty huge piece of metal such as the 15 tonne final stages of the Saturn V Moon rocket. You'd be amazed to know what you can learn by hitting the Moon hard enough.
You have to remeber that everything is relative;
"it doesn't spin about its own axis, instead always keeping the same face to its primary"
This is (almost) perfectly correct, relative to earth (it wobbles a bit so, over time we can see 57% of the moon).
For something to be purely spinning, it has to rotate about an axis, i.e. after one rotation it will occupy the same space, which of course the moon does not do as the axis itself is moving, the moons movement is far more complex (precession being the most obvious factor, note that the moon is in a decaying eliptical orbit, but earths rotation, the solar system rotates within the milky way and the milky way rotates within the universe which of course is expanding and these all affect how things move).
So the moon does experience [geometric i.e. relative] rotation, but the axis of rotation is actually the centre of the earth and moon gravity centre (which is roughly at the earths surface), i.e. the moon does not spin on it's poles, however you could say that the moons axis of rotation is just above the earths surface (which would make the original quote wrong).
So, David and Stuart, if you are going to try and pick (pedantic) holes in a most excellent article from Finbar Saunders at least make sure you're right (which you're not, or at least you're just as wrong)
Bad Astronomy: The Moon only shows one face to us because it is not rotating.
Better astronomy: The Moon only shows one face because it is rotating, once every time it revolves around the Earth.
Best astronomy: The Moon does not appear to rotate in the reference frame where the Earth-Moon line is fixed in direction, but it does rotate as seen by an outside observer.
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