LRO officially in business

First LROC Stereo Results
First LROC Stereo Results

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been spending the past months calibrating its instruments since its launch in June. Its camera works best at an altitude of 50 kilometers, but it takes fuel to maintain such an orbit, so the orbiter has been spending its time in a commissioning phase orbit while it calibrates its instruments. The commissioning phase is now over, and the LRO has executed a 3 minute burn to put itself into a polar orbit 50 kilometers above the Moon, where it will spend the next year taking images of the surface and studying the Moon.

The LRO has already given us pictures of the Apollo landing sites and other locations on the Moon during its commissioning phase, but it should give us even better pictures now that it is officially in business.

Troubling rumors about a TV personality

There are troubling rumors that a certain TV talk show host raped and murdered a young girl in 1990. I do not believe this to be true, but the lack of response concerning the matter from said talk show host is disturbing. If he did not commit these horrendous crimes, then why will he not deny these allegations? Is it possible that these rumors are actually true?

... I'm not sure why, but there seems to be something horribly wrong with this way of thinking. But said talk show host argues like this all the time, so this line of thinking has to have something to it, right? It can't be the case that a famous person that has his own television show talks nonsense on a regular basis, can it?

Impact site for LCROSS

Potential south pole water concentrations
Potential south pole water concentrations

LCROSS, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite launched in June, will be crashing into the Moon next month. And now we know exactly where it will crash into the Moon. The upper rocket stage that launched LCROSS will be crashing into the permanently shadowed parts of the crater Cabeus A near the Moon's south pole, which will kick up a huge plume that LCROSS will observe. And it will be soon followed by the crash of LCROSS itself, which will kick up a smaller plume that telescopes on Earth could observe.

With any luck, there will be water in the permanent shadows around the Moon's south pole, and LCROSS will be able to definitely confirm its presence.

New and improved Hubble

By now, you probably all know that the Hubble Space Telescope is back in business after its repairs in May. (Notwithstanding its imaging of the Jupiter impact in July, which was done by taking time out of its calibration phase.) The repairs did not merely replace aging instruments, but replaced them with better instruments incorporating advances in technology. It shows, with recently released images revealing more details than ever before. And what's more is that each image requires a lot less time to be taken, which means more observations can be done by Hubble.

As an example of how much the Hubble Space Telescope has improved, compare images of NGC 6302, the Butterfly Nebula, taken before and after the repairs:

Before

Before

After

After