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Two Goodrich Sensors Unlimited Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) cameras recently helped NASA scientists to determine the presence of water on the moon.

On 9 October 2009 a NASA rocket was launched into a crater near the moon’s south-pole; images from the SWIR cameras showed evidence of water in the post-crash debris plume.

The lunar crash was part of NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission to search for water on the moon.

Two Goodrich SWIR – referred to by NASA as ‘near infrared’ – cameras were part of the payload aboard the spacecraft, along with the Centaur rocket that was hurled onto the moon’s surface.

Images of the vapour and debris plume created by the rocket’s impact were recorded by the SWIR cameras and were analysed to determine the presence of water.

Because the Goodrich SWIR cameras detect moisture contrast through dust, smoke and fog, they were able to accurately record the LCROSS crash incident for precise study of the debris cloud.

SWIR technology detects reflected light at wavelengths that the human eye cannot see, in wavelength bands between visible and thermal cameras.

Advanced materials and circuitry allow the cameras to be very small and lightweight, making them ideal for space travel.

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