Tuesday, 18 December 2012

NASA GRAIL Probes to Finish the Moon’s Gravity-Mapping Mission

Two NASA moon probes will finish their gravity-mapping mission, crashing intentionally into a cliff near the lunar North Pole according to reports.

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, will fly low over the moon’s surface and crash into the rim of a crater. The probes will impact about 20 seconds apart, with each traveling at 3,760 mph (6,050 kph) or so, according to mission team members.

The controlled crashes have been part of the plan from the mission’s outset, but there will not be any live visuals, because the impacts are going to happen in the dark.

“We are not expecting a big flash or a big explosion, okay? These are two small spacecraft. They are, I will use the term ‘apartment-sized washer and dryer-sized’ spacecraft with empty fuel tanks, so we’re not expecting a flash that is visible from Earth”, Maria Zuber of Massachusetts Institute of Technology mentioned in a statement during NASA news conference.

Ebb and Flow will not be the first craft to crash into the moon, reports added. According to NASA‘s GRAIL mission report, 12 US, Soviet and Japanese spacecraft crashed into the moon’s surface between 1959 and 1993.


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