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NASA photos show moon strike created plume

tech reviews Updated: Oct 19, 2009 00:38 IST

NASA’s much-hyped mission to hurl a spacecraft into the moon turned out some worthwhile data after all, scientists said.

New images show a mile-high plume of lunar debris from the Cabeus crater shortly after the space agency’s Centaur rocket struck on October 9.

‘’We were blown away by the data returned,’’ Anthony Colaprete, the mission’s chief scientist, said in a report on Friday.

‘’The team is working hard on the analysis, and the data appear to be of very high quality.’’

In media coverage before the impact, many observers said they were disappointed at the lack of spectacle.

But scientists said the mission was carried out for ‘’a scientific purpose, not to put on a fireworks display for the public,’’ said space consultant Alan Stern, a former NASA associate administrator for science.

By creating the debris cloud, scientists were able to use the $79-million Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite to sample and study the dust.