What an exciting thing, crashing a probe into the moon at 5,600 mph! Man, where we pumped about this, but it turned out to be visually uninteresting. So far, all we've seen are blurry pictures of the moon, but no exciting cloud of dust we were so eagerly anticipating.
Never mind that, though, NASA hit the bull's-eye at 7:31 Eastern Time this morning, slamming the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's (LCROSS) 2.2-ton second stage into the bottom of a crater near the lunar south pole, and kicking up 350 tons of dust and rubble. Four minutes behind it was a probe gathering data that also crashed into that same crater, looking for water ice that might make it easier for humans to someday inhabit that desolate orb 230,000 miles from us.
Why no dust plume? As the probe followed the rocket booster, it sent back live video pictures as it crashed (looking more like a series of blurry stills), but that cloud of debris might not have risen high enough to catch the sunlight. The Hubble Space Telescope was also focused on that crash site, so stay tuned — there might be more pictures forthcoming.
UPDATE (11/13/09): Here it is a month later, and NASA says there's water on the moon, and plenty of it!