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NASA Moon Bomb Stirs Up Cloud

Microsoft and Google will offer looks at LCROSS lunar impact on their Web platforms.

Stargazers who weren't able to get a live view of a NASA spacecraft slamming into the moon will be able to view images of the event at their leisure thanks to a couple of Web giants' cloud computing efforts.

Both Microsoft and Google will preserve content from the mission on their respective online space platforms. Microsoft will store data on its WorldWide Telescope site, while Google will archive it on Google Moon.

NASA Friday reported that, as planned, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), broke apart and crashed into the lunar surface at 1.5 miles per second, causing twin impacts.

The point was to create craters and raise dust clouds in an effort to determine whether the moon hosts sources of water stored in the form of ice.

"The LCROSS science instruments worked exceedingly well and returned a wealth of data that will greatly improve our understanding of our closest celestial neighbor," said LCROSS principal investigator and NASA Ames Research Center project manager Anthony Colaprete, in a statement.

NASA scientists will study information from the mission over the coming weeks to see if it holds evidence of lunar ice and water. "The team is excited to dive into data," said Colaprete.

Earthbound astronomy fans will be able to turn to Google and Microsoft for pictures and data from the mission. NASA's Planetary Content Team has partnered with Google to let users create moon maps through the Google Maps API.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has a deal with NASA under which more than 100 terabytes of data will be available through the Microsoft Worldwide Telescope.

LCROSS traveled 5.6 million miles over a 113-day voyage before it hit the moon at 4:31 am Friday, according to NASA.

InformationWeek and Dr. Dobb's have published an in-depth report on how Web application development is moving to online platforms. Download the report here (registration required).

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