NASA's LCROSS Lunar Mission Pays Homage to Hitchhiker's Guide

NASA's LCROSS Lunar Mission Pays Homage to Hitchhiker's Guide

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Moments before crashing into Earth's Moon, NASA's LCROSS probe paid homage to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels via ... Twitter, of all things.

The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) probe met a fairly spectacular end earlier this month, crashing into the Moon at a speed of more than 2.49km/s (5577mph) in an attempt to uncover ice buried beneath the lunar surface. As the probe hurtled through space, it cheerfully updated a Twitter feed keeping the Internet posted on the mission status - how fast it was traveling and how far away it was from its destination.

Moments before impacting the crater-scarred landscape, the final mission updates paid homage to a suddenly-created cetacean on its way to a space collision of its very own in the classic sci-fi comedy series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the book, two missiles aimed at the protagonists' spaceship Heart of Gold find themselves suddenly turned into a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias by the power of the ship's Infinite Improbability Drive. As The Guardian sums up:

The whale spends the last few minutes of its life pondering its existence - "Ahhh! Woooh! What's happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What's my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I?" - before it crashes into the surface of the planet Magrathea.

LCROSS may not have been pondering its own existence (at least not as far as we know), but the probe did recount the ill-fated whale's words as it plummeted towards a final collision: "And what's this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round ... it needs a big wide sounding name like 'Ow', 'Ownge', 'Round', 'Ground'! ... That's it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it'll be friends with me?"

The probe's impact failed to produce the hoped-for 10km column of dust and rock that would have been scanned for traces of ice (the presence of which would have been a strong argument in favor of colonizing Earth's biggest satellite), but it succeeded in bringing the late Adams' words into space. Where else could possibly be more fitting than that?

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Ha!
That's Brilliant! and the Original Hitch Hiker's Guide, no less!
I'm so glad they did that... I have people to tell this to...

On twitter

Happiness went Up

Then fell through the floor and out the other end of the earth at the word Twitter

So cool, but it is disappointing that the mission was a failure. I was up all night refreshing google news and the NASA homepage to see how the impact went. I WOULD have gone to the observatory to watch it, but it's on the North side of my town. We don't go to the north side.

RIP Douglas Adams. He would have loved this.

Again, I'm relieved nothing went catastrophically wrong. Like a smooth landing on the moon.

*I wonder if it will be my friend?*

Thats really cool, to bad the mission wasn't a success.

SirBryghtside:

Glefistus:
So cool, but it is disappointing that the mission was a failure. I was up all night refreshing google news and the NASA homepage to see how the impact went. I WOULD have gone to the observatory to watch it, but it's on the North side of my town. We don't go to the north side.

Why? What's on the north side?

It sounds spooky

Only human trash and gangbangers, but there are never enough police on the streets.

Thats brilliant!

Thanks for the OP. I wouldn't have heard about this otherwise.

The only thing the moon thought was "Oh no, not again."

Heh heh... The Guardian...

Awesome. Not the crash, though.

Oh no, not again.

Nice to see humour has not died out even in the more seriously minded scientific circuits.

Oh, and 'We apologize for the inconvenience' would have been a fitting memoir to the second crash.

Brilliant. I know there's an asteroid called 'Arthur Dent' out there somewhere. I think there's also a 'Douglas Adams' one.

In before all the people whose souls are held down by gravity come in here and start complaining about how we spent billions of dollars that could've been better spent on domestic issues to make a tribute to Douglas Adams.

that's awesome, still one of the funniest parts of the book. at least they weren't saying what was going thru the bowl of petunias

Ubernerd that I am, I read this while in the pub. Now I have to apologise to the barstaff who have just watched me cheer.

Sheer genius, I'm certain DNA would approve.

The Cake Is Annoying:
Again, I'm relieved nothing went catastrophically wrong. Like a smooth landing on the moon.

*I wonder if it will be my friend?*

if you read it differently it can sound sad, like:

... it needs a big wide sounding name like 'Ow', 'Ownge', 'Round', 'Ground'! ... That's it! Ground! Ha!...... I wonder if it'll be friends with me?"

Adding the pause right before the last sentence with a slight sound of hope makes it sound like a suicide note. But whatever, not like the satellite actually has feelings.

It's been said, but thanks for mentioning this. I wouldn't have likely found this, and it is perhaps the greatest use of a Hitchhiker's reference I have ever seen.

This has convinced me there is still good in this world... maybe I should lay off of all the lunar colonization research. I don't need to pour billions of dollars into NASA for memory-foam and living on the moon. I have forgotten the way of Adams, but now my eyes are re-opened. Thank you, CantFakeTheFunk, you have shown me the light, and I am going to push to have NASA closed.
- Barack Obama

Captain Pancake:
Heh heh... The Guardian...

Yeah, did you know for example that it's been proven that 89% of all Guardian buyers burn the paper without ever reading it. And that the remaining 11% are criminally insane.

What no one realises is that no actually programmed the probe to do that. It just read the books and became a fan.

This whole mission has just been made of awesomeness, not only did it bring us the best newspaper headline ever "Nasa Bombs Moon" but also Hitchhiker references, awesome.

Glefistus:
So cool, but it is disappointing that the mission was a failure. I was up all night refreshing google news and the NASA homepage to see how the impact went. I WOULD have gone to the observatory to watch it, but it's on the North side of my town. We don't go to the north side.

Da Joz:
Thats really cool, to bad the mission wasn't a success.

The mission was a success. They got data from the probe of the impact of the booster and as far as I know also from the Lunar Orbitter (can't remember if that is the name though). True nothing could be seen from Earth but that was a best case scenario anyway. The important thing is that data was gained and science is being done on that data.

More information on http://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/

That's bloody genius!
:)

and the crater was filled with these large reddish spongy rocks.

Glefistus:
So cool, but it is disappointing that the mission was a failure. I was up all night refreshing google news and the NASA homepage to see how the impact went. I WOULD have gone to the observatory to watch it, but it's on the North side of my town. We don't go to the north side.

...The heavily cloaked figure takes the childs hand and asks him... "What's wrong"
The child looks up and with eyes too wizened for his features, remarks... "We don't go to the north side..."
I'd probably like to chill there, reminds me of "we don't go to ravenholm"
Anyway this was epic. I hate twitter, but I love the HG. Its nice to know that no matter how educated you are and how many millions are on your budget, people can come together with literature.
ahem. "good" literature.

Haha that totally made my day.

I'm glad to see NASA has a great sense of humor

Yet another reason I love NASA. Seriously, its like the government organization for cool stuff!

I can't imagine living on the moon, unless you're born on it. It's such a frightening change.

Just think, if DNA were around these days, he'd probably have a Twitter account and a blog, and he would have been cracking jokes about the moon bombing left right and center.

That was a sad computer class the day he died.

Awesome... I love geeks.

lol nice

I'm confused. So the *probe* itself sent this message to twitter? That...Is kind of surprising if it did that.

Still, it's pretty funny to hear.

 

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