— NASA's moon-crashing probe - known as the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS - is flying past its target Tuesday morning. And if the streaming-video spirits are smiling, you can follow along.
The space agency says it is planning to webcast LCROSS' lunar encounter starting at 8:20 a.m. ET Tuesday. The swingby is aimed at changing the spacecraft's trajectory, five days after launch, in order to get it into position for its eventual crash (currently set for October).
LCROSS' cameras and other scientific instruments will be switched on for about an hour for calibration purposes. The first 30 minutes of LCROSS' data feed will provide frame-per-second video views of the lunar surface from an altitude of about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers), NASA says. During the second half-hour, LCROSS will scan the lunar horizon to calibrate its sensors, and the video imagery will update only occasionally. Another Web stream will show an animation visualizing the spacecraft's position throughout the swingby.
The availability and quality of the streaming video will depend on a multitude of factors - so as usual, there are no guarantees (tip o' the Log to SpaceWeather.com).
Even earlier in the day, NASA TV will be carrying coverage of its other moon probe's entry into lunar orbit. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched right along with LCROSS, but in this case, the point of the maneuver is to position the spacecraft so it doesn't hit the moon. Video coverage of LRO's lunar orbit insertion begins at 5:30 a.m. ET, NASA says.
Here are a few other Web links to moon over: