On this day July 31, 1999

NASA’s Lunar Prospector was deliberately crashed into the Shoemaker crater near the moon’s south pole in an unsuccessful attempt to detect the presence of water.

Lunar Prospector probe

Lunar Prospector probe

The mission was the third selected by NASA for full development and construction as part of the Discovery Program.

At a cost of $62.8 million, the 19-month mission was designed for a low polar orbit investigation of the Moon, including mapping of surface composition and possible polar ice deposits, measurements of magnetic and gravity fields, and study of lunar outgassing events.

The mission ended July 31, 1999 when the orbiter was deliberately crashed into a crater near the lunar south pole in an unsuccessful attempt to detect the presence of water.

Data from the mission allowed the construction of a detailed map of the surface composition of the Moon, and helped to improve understanding of the origin, evolution, current state, and resources of the Moon. A series of articles on the scientific results were published in the journal Science.[1]

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