Thermal imaging cameras detect LCROSS lunar impact

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Thermal imaging cameras from Thermoteknix were part of the sensing equipment of NASA's LCROSS (the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) mission to detect water on the moon.

A 2,200kg Centaur rocket stage crashed into the moon on 9 October followed shortly after by a second unmanned spacecraft containing an array of sensors including a Thermoteknix Miricle TB2-30 infrared camera to record the impact. The Thermoteknix camera detected a minute flash of heat as the Centaur hit the moon, confirming the moment of impact and recording the temperature rise as a new crater was formed.

An array of more than 15 observatories around the earth were involved in observing the event, as was the Hubble telescope, which closely monitored the impact and its instruments recorded spectroscopic data.

Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS principal investigator and project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, said: 'The LCROSS science instruments worked exceedingly well and returned a wealth of data that will greatly improve our understanding of our closest celestial neighbour.'

Finding water on the moon is not only important for supporting prolonged manned visits to the moon, but will also allow the production of rocket fuel for venturing further into space.

Dr Richard Salisbury, managing director of Thermoteknix, said: 'We are delighted to have successfully played such a critical part in NASA's epic mission to find water on the moon, which is vital for the future of long-term space exploration and we are all very proud of this achievement.'

The Miricle radiometric aerospace qualified system is calibrated for temperature measurement in the harshest of environments under the most extreme vibration conditions.