The latest activity to capture the interest of the fringe and lunatics (never was that description more apt) is the fact that NASA/the US is going to set off a nuclear bomb and blast our dear Luna out of its orbit.
Following the sage advice of others to consider Google my friend (though there are some that would disagree even with that), I have found what the current paranoid hoopla is about: It is the LCROSS mission, which is about finding water on the moon, to see if the moon can support a human space station there.
NASA intends to shoot (or crash) a missile into the moon. Some people believe “missile” only means something loaded with explosives, and nuclear ones are the most likely. That has led some people to interpret this as not only damaging the moon, but as damaging it so much it would shift in its orbit or its shape would be changed forever. The truth is, it’s all just simple mechanics and physics, and no nukes: Slam something hard enough into the ground and it’ll kick up dirt. (Interestingly, the missile is named Centaur. Perhaps that’s why it grabbed this Sagittarian’s attention.)
What’s really happening is akin to getting a shot in the arm, except we want to draw a bit of blood. The idea is to have a strong enough impact that any water in the ground would show up in the impact dust as water vapor. That is what the scientists want to see and measure. That is why we’re shooting the moon. We want to, once again, shoot for the moon. Actually leave some folks up there. But we’ll need a local source of water. As before, whenever humans went anywhere, we stayed only if we found a local source of water.
My initial reaction, too, was what the heck are they trying to do now? But after reading the mission description, I’m all for it. I’m all for space exploration. As NASA says in its own presskit:
By going to the moon, a new generation of explorers will learn how to work safely in a harsh environment. The moon is a stepping stone to future exploration of other bodies in our solar system and offers many clues about when the Earth and the other planets were formed.
The magic date: October 9, 11:30 GMT. NASA will televise for those of us without telescopes (10″ or better) or a view of the moon.