Gilroy Today 2009 09 Fall | Page 14

Gilroy ’ s Got Pros

Meet Rusty Hunt

Flight Director AMES

Research Center

Rusty Hunt lives in a beautiful home on a hill in Eagle Ridge but Rusty works on the moon ! Not exactly , but close . Actually , Rusty Hunt is one of two flight directors for the LCROSS mission to the moon . LCROSS stands for Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite . The mission is simple , “ confirm the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater near the lunar pole .”

About three years ago NASA ( National Aeronautics & Space
Administration ) had some extra payload capacity on a lunar reconnaissance orbiter ( LRO ) mission to the moon . The LRO will prepare detailed maps of the moon . The AMES Research Center came up with a plan to crash the upper stage of the Atlas V , Centaur rocket into an area of the moon “ where the sun doesn ’ t shine .” The crash will send a plume of lunar material six miles into the lunar atmosphere . LCROSS will travel through the plume looking for water or ice and will eventually crash into the moon , creating
another smaller plume . Further up , the LRO will observe both crashes and plumes and gather additional data .
Why water ? If there is water in this area on the moon , then men could set up a base for exploring the moon and planets beyond . Water is essential to life , and water can be separated into hydrogen and oxygen both necessary elements of extended stays away from mother earth . Scientists believe that some of the meteors that crashed into the moon brought with them