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NASA Announces Plan to Hit Moon in 2008

A new NASA mission to the moon will pelt the lunar surface in order to study plumes of dust -- and search for ice crystals. The unmanned mission, slated for October 2008, will launch a lunar orbiter from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., using the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle.

The plan is to smash an object the weight of a sport utility vehicle into a crater on the moon, then fly a spacecraft through the resulting plume to search for evidence of ice. NASA said the mission is part of its plan to see if oxygen, hydrogen, or materials on the moon could be used to help support a trip to Mars.

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David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.
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