NASA’s GRAIL Probes Prepare For Crash Landing

By on December 17, 2012 // Space // 0 Comments

The GRAIL mission comes to an end
Image: NASA/GSFC

So, do you remember when I wrote about NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, aka the GRAIL mission? Back in February, its twin probes, Ebb & Flow (named by fourth graders at Emily Dickinson Elementary School, no less), gave us a fascinating look at the moon’s oft-unseen far side.

Yeah, well…now we’re gonna crash those suckers onto the moon’s surface.

As their fuel runs low and their mission comes to an end, NASA plans to intentionally smash the probes into a crater near the moon’s north pole.

“Ebb and Flow, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission probes, are being sent purposely into the lunar surface because their low orbit and low fuel levels preclude further scientific operations. The duo’s successful prime and extended science missions generated the highest-resolution gravity field map of any celestial body. The map will provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved.”

Both GRAIL spacecraft are scheduled to impact the moon later today, with the Ebb probe crashing first at 5:28:40 p.m. EST. Flow will follow 20 seconds later.

NASA will also have a live-stream of the event, beginning at 5:00 p.m. EST, which will be available on NASA TV. Unfortunately, as the crash will occur “in shadow,” we won’t actually get to see their tragic awesome end.

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About the Author

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. He manages Stranger Dimensions in between changing aquarium filters and reading bad novels about mermaids.
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