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NASA moon bombing successful. Did we find water?

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(Read caption) Artist's impression of LCROSS watching the Centaur upper stage it guided smash into the moon. After the first collision, the instruments on LCROSS will measure the properties of the material the collision kicks up. Then it too smacks into the moon.

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NASA did it. NASA bombed the moon.

Its LCROSS mission punched two new craters in the moon this morning, and only about a minute behind schedule (see video below).

As for whether LCROSS kicked up evidence for water on the moon (the object of the exercise), the jury is still out.

It will take scientists a couple of weeks to figure out if the shadowed area of Cabeus crater holds any water ice. Visually, not much seemed to happen. Michael Bicay, the science director a NASA's Ames Research Center said: "It's hard to tell what we saw here."

But if the science team does find water? How do you get at it, especially if it's covered with moon dust? Just nuke it in a microwave!

That's an approach Ed Ethridge and his colleagues are experimenting with at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville, Ala. It's a way of turning radio waves into a wringer.

Using simulated moon dirt, they found that under very cold, moon-like temperatures and in a vacuum, a standard household microwave oven would heat the lunar soil, causing ice that had condensed on the soil's grains to change directly from solid directly to gas. By trapping and cooling the gas, they got liquid water.


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