San Jose, California: NASA Uses Inflatable Screen to Show Lunar Activity

IA woke up at 3:15 Friday morning to what else? watch NASA blast a crater in the moon's tuchus. We even woke our kids for this one, what with the promise of a brilliant plume of lunar detritus visible with a mere 12-inch-diameter telescope. (Yeah, we're geeky that way.) And even better was the invitation to roll out a blanket on the lawn at Moffett Field and watch the show with a community of science celebrities and fellow geeks. Though actually, we only counted one dude dressed in a Spaceship Enterprise get-up. And somebody spotted Sergey Brin's Tesla. That wasn't the only disappointment. Note to NASA: Next time you spend $79 million on a space mission, scraping together bargains from Northrop Grumman's discount shelves, set aside a few million for a scriptwriter and better-than-B-movie production crew. Watching the LCROSS satellite on the giant inflatable screen just steps from NASA Ames' mission control felt a bit like enjoying an Ed Wood film festival. The only thing missing was Bela Lugosi's stand-in with a cape covering his face. After hours of NASA TV interviews, ever-zooming close-ups of the moon (in black and white, and infrared!) and riveting look-ins on Ames' mission control was that really the same extension cord IA just bought at Home Depot? it was time for the big show. With all eyes trained on the moon, sleepy grade-schoolers wrapped in sleeping bags and grown-ups reminiscing about Walter Cronkite's narration atop the grainy footage of Armstrong's first footsteps, LCROSS gave us ... white.No plume. Just a fuzzy screen of white. Then, like the awkward pause between movements of an experimental symphony, IA and the rest of the crowd didn't know whether to clap or politely wait for more. Poor NASA Ames didn't even get the celebration right: The biggest response from the crowd after impact came when one scientist offered an unreciprocated high-five to the flight director one who apparently didn't notice. Great science? Yes. But generations inspired? IA appreciates NASA's thriftiness with taxpayers' money. But next time throw in a second camera angle one that doesn't get blown to smithereens to capture the moment so it's worth waking our sixth-grader at 3 a.m. on a school night to watch. source-

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