Oct 11, 2009, 1:02:31 PM10/11/09
I have been a lurker here and want to thank the group for getting me
ready for the impact and teaching me about areas of the moon I had
never observed. Like most everyone here I hope that LCROSS is very
successful scientifically, and it appears that all the instruments
were working well and that they have much space-based and ground-based
spectroscopic data in addition to the LCROSS instruments.
On the other hand, NASA went through a big PR campaign, talked about
how amateurs could and should observe, gathered together folks at this
ridiculous hour at Ames, and surrounded them with amateur telescopes
and feeds from professional telescopes. In my view, NASA worked hard
to get the layman to watch this event. Was I the only one observing
who was disappointed?
There was a degree of surprise and what I would interpret as
disappointment in the faces of the panelists in the impact broadcast.
The news conference that followed at 7 AM Pacific was "spinning" like
crazy. I appreciate that there is little or no immediate data and it
is a mistake to jump to conclusions. OTH, the lack of visible plume
was the elephant in the room and it was studiously avoided. By that
time there were reports out on the internet from professional
observatories that no plume was visible. During Q&A when asked a
direct question about whether they were disappointed that they did not
see a plume, the answer was a side-step. To paraphrase, it depends
what you mean by "see" and "plume." Finally we were told that
imaging, and presumably visual observation was not really what was
important because all the science was in the spectroscopy. At a
minimum, someone at the news conference could have empathized with all
the people who were trying to observe a predicted visible plume at
NASA's urging. No need to be disappointed in the mission, but they
could have been disappointed that the observing program for amateurs
and laymen was frankly a bust. My own hypothesis, based on watching
the NASA telecasts is that they were disappointed that it was not a
better public show. How could they not be?
NASA science lives or dies according to funding from public sources
and the NASA relationship with the public is quite important to
continuing its science. In my view, they made a serious error going
into "damage control" mentality in the post impact news conference.
Hopefully scientific results from the mission will help smooth this
Thanks again for all the great information through this site.