The faithful probe performed its final service and created a brand new lunar crater. Now we wait for the data crunchers to tell us just how feasible the Moon is as a staging post for solar exploration.
“We saw the impact, we saw the crater. We got good spectroscopic measurements which is what we needed of the impact event,” said Anthony Colaprete, principal investigator for the (now deceased) Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.
What neither scientists nor watching TV audiences saw was a plume of debris rising from the crash site. Why not is in itself an interesting question, which perhaps will help us understand more about the mechanics of dispersion in vacuum and low gravity.
As to the point of the whole thing, for that outcome we’ll have to wait a while. The spectroscopic data collected should, as anticipated, yield a fairly good picture of just how much water ice is locked in the lunar soil. It’s not the same thing as a properly collected core sample, but under the circumstances it’s a whole lot cheaper.