NASA will launch a mission Wednesday to gather information about how humans might someday colonize the moon, the Los Angeles Times reports. A robotic orbiter will provide detailed maps of the topography and first-of-their kind peeks inside craters where ice might be hiding. “We're going to provide NASA with what is needed to get human beings back to the moon and to stay there for an extended duration,” said one mission official.
A second spacecraft will punch a giant crater in the moon so scientists can poke around the resulting plume, again in a hunt for frozen water. “This should be spectacular,” said a project scientist. “It should be a very visible impact from Earth” for amateur astronomers. That comes in about 4 months. The new topographical maps will help determine where the crater goes.