NASA celebrates the moon by shooting lasers at it
2010-09-22 0:00


Last night was "International Observe the Moon Night," apparently, and NASA celebrated by shooting our favorite satellite with lasers. Naturally!

Donít worry, the lasers werenít the explodey kind, they were the observey kind. The lasers, fired from the Goddard Space Flight Centerís Laser Ranging Facility in Greenbelt, Maryland, are used to track the location of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter as it orbits the moon. All NASA has to do is fire those lasers 28 times a second and theyíre able to pinpoint where the SUV-sized satellite is as it moves at 3,600 MPH over 250,000 miles away. Pretty awesome.

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"Last night was "International Observe the Moon Night", and of the 400 or so Moon-centric gatherings around the world, this one had to be the most spectacular, as NASA shot laser blasts at the Moon...for strictly scientific purposes, honest.

Donít worry, this isnít the opening shots in NASAís long delayed invasion of the Moon. The laser, located at the Goddard Space Flight Centerís Laser Ranging Facility in Greenbelt, Maryland, is used to track the location of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter as it moves around the Moon.

The probe is about the size of a small SUV, itís moving at 3,600 miles per hours, and itís located 250,000 miles away, and yet NASA can figure out exactly where it is at any given moment by firing lasers at it 28 times every second and then measuring how the focused light is reflected back to Earth.

Usually, these activities are closed to the public, but NASA allowed tourists into the facility to watch the operation as part of International Observe the Moon Night. " Source

How do you make a huge telescope even more powerful? Lasers, of course!

No, this observatory is not starting a war with a distant alien race. Instead, itís exciting the atoms in the upper atmosphere to create an artificial star 56 miles above Earth. And this, of course, will help it take pictures of the cosmos.

The European Southern Observatory uses this method, called the Laser Guide Star, to provide a reference for the four mirror-based telescopes that make up the Very Large Telescope array.

Itís all very cool and futuristic, although part of me does wish that the laser was being used to blast some baddieís spaceship out of the sky. Maybe someday!

Observe the Moon Night Goes Global

On September 18, 2010 the world will join the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centerís Visitor Center in Greenbelt, Md., as well as other NASA Centers to celebrate the first annual International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN).

"InOMN provides the opportunity for the general public, our partners, and amateur astronomers to learn about lunar science and to view the Moon - many for the first time - through telescopes!" said Brooke Hsu, the Education and Public Outreach lead for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and principle investigator for InOMN.

What started as a celebration of LROís successful journey to orbit around the Moon last August has grown to into an astronomical event this year. After LROís launch, Goddardís Education and Outreach Team hosted the event, "Weíre at the Moon!" The same day, the event "National Observe the Moon Night," was hosted at NASAís Ames Research Center (ARC) in Moffett Field, Calif. by the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite and NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) teams. NLSI is based at NASA Ames. This year, the teams have decided to expand the event by partnering with other NASA institutions, organizations and communities around the world.

"The goal of both of these events was similar: engage the local public and amateur astronomer communities in an event to raise awareness of NASAís involvement in lunar research and exploration. The events were so successful weíve decided to do it again. Only better and much, much bigger," said Doris Daou, the director of communications and outreach for NLSI.

The event, which is free to the public, will be from 6:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. EDT and include guest speakers and astronomers discussing lunar science, hands-on activities using binoculars and amateur astronomy telescopes and a public unveiling of new LRO images. There will even be a number of tours to the Laser Ranging facility at the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory and presentations on the always fascinating Science on a Sphere globe at the Visitorís Center.

"I think itís important to have an event like this at Goddard for two reasons. One, Goddard is leading the LRO mission to the moon, and itís important for the public to be exposed to the amazing results of that mission. Secondly, I really like the idea of exposing the public to a diverse range of topics covered at a NASA center," said Dr. Noah Petro, a research scientist at the Goddard Planetary Geodynamics Branch.

Petro will be giving a presentation on recent lunar discoveries and discussing images of the lunar surface at the "New Light" activity station.

Also tune into:

Mike Bara - Dark Mission, The Occult NASA Moon Mission

David Wilcock - Dark Mission, 2012 & Time Cycles

Todd Campbell - Through the Looking Glass Continued

Richard C. Hoagland - Phobos an Ancient Alien Spaceship, Mars, NASA & Disclosure

Joseph P Farrell - Cosmic War, Interplanetary Warfare & Mesopotamian Mythology

Ted Twietmeyer - What NASA isnít Telling you about Mars

Ted Twietmeyer - The Moon & Sun, Time & UFOís

Related Articles
Who Parked The Moon?
LRO Finds Bridges on the Moon
Moon may be shrinking, but very, very slowly
Moonís Shell May Be Wet, But Inside Is Bone Dry
Subterranean Living May Await Moon And Mars Colonists
Thereís a Monolith on Mars Moon, Phobos
Was NASAís plan to return to the moon just an illusion?
Huge Tower at the Central Peak of Pythagoras on the Moon

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