NASA Shoots the Moon, Looks for Water

WASHINGTON Friday morning, at 7 times the speed of sound, a booster rocket and then a centaur spacecraft-smashed into the dark side of the moon.

It's not some far-fetched military experiment. NASA is bombing the moon for science.

"It's a science experiment all about what's there," said Chief Scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center Jim Garvin.

For every child who's stared at the moon in the nighttime sky and wondered what made of, NASA hopes to find an answer.

Four decades ago, the Apollo astronauts made a discovery the lunar surface is as dry as dust. Now, satellite images will probe the 5-mile plume of debris rising from the moon's South Pole to see if it contains water, or more precisely, ice.

"Where's the water on the moon and how does it work?"

In the decades to come, NASA has a new mission: building a base on the moon to explore the deepest reaches of the solar system. But supplying it would cost untold billions unless the water is already there.

Grainy images of the experiment don't do justice to the dramatic impact. But NASA officials believe somewhere in the pictures and other readings taken Friday lies the answer to an age-old question: Water or no water?

"We have the data we need to actually address the questions we sent it up to address. I'm not going to say anything about water or no water but we got the info we need," said Anthony Colaprete with NASA>

The water isn't just for drinking. Water contains hydrogen for fuel and oxygen to breathe. Finding it could mean the difference between bringing rockets full of supplies, and bringing a few shovels.

The blast could launch the most ambitious program since 1961 when President Kennedy announced the United States planned to put a man on the moon.

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