Friday, October 09, 2009

LCROSS and the moon

I'll admit I was excited to hear they would be crashing something on the moon, and that it would be visible to folks with big telescopes (because I have a big telescope, and because the moon is pretty much static so it would be cool to actually see something happen), but disappointed when I heard I needed at least 500 power to view it, since my smallest eyepiece is about half that, and even at that magnification you have to constantly nudge nudge nudge the scope to keep what you're looking at in view. I've never gone higher power, and rarely even use my high power eyepiece anyway, because it's a rare day when the atmosphere is still enough to see at that magnification. So last night I stayed in bed while NASA crashed their project into the moon. I heard from other astronomers that our area was socked in by clouds anyway, so just as well.

I didn't want to miss the excitement, so I set the DVR to record NASA TV. NASA TV is about as dull as watching paint dry, even to me, and I'm actually interested in what they're doing! While setting up the DVR I had it on ISS coverage briefly as they determined that the new space treadmill wasn't working. Nothing like ten minutes of the view from a camera pointed at a treadmill that isn't moving. That's some gripping TV right there!

You'd think someone could make it more engaging. But instead it's the same old thing: watching people at flight control punching away on their laptops. Hard to decipher technical messages between the various stations. At least in this case there was an interesting view from the LCROSS spacecraft as it got closer and closer. And then the screen went white. So I assume that was impact. The guys at mission control clapped, got up and stretched, folded up their laptops and got out of there. And that was it. Literally, they were clearing the room within 15 seconds! And then the announcers said they'd have pictures in about 2 hours! What, are you kidding me? I'm so glad I didn't climb out of bed at 4:30AM for that - talk about anti-climactic!

I'm sure they were off to another room to work on some important science stuff, but still, you think that for an event that had been covered this much in the last couple weeks, they could have found a way to make it more interesting to the general public. It's stuff like this where people actually get excited to see what NASA is doing, and then they let us down. Might as well have not even built it up if there's going to be nothing to see. I mean, I've been being disappointed by NASA for many years, so I had pretty low expectations for the event, and they managed to set the bar even lower.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Bummer. But your photo is way cool :)


Mer said...

Yeah... maybe they could get some "reality TV" thing going on. Get whoever produces their TV channel to jazz it up some. MTV-style pop up bubbles with facts could be good too. I think you're on to something here... :)