NASA Moon Probes Enter Lunar Orbit for New Year's Eve/Day
January 2, 2012 1:10 PM
comment(s) - last by
Grail-A and Grail-B
The probes will search the moon "from crust to core" in an effort to understand the moon's origins
Two NASA probes sent to orbit the moon last year have finally entered lunar orbit on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
The twin probes, named Grail-A and Grail-B (Grail stands for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory), are part of a $496 million mission that launched September 10, 2011. They are two washing machine-sized probes that were sent to orbit the moon in an effort to
better understand the moon's origins
At this point, it is believed that the moon came to be after a Mars-sized object hit the Earth 4.5 billion years ago and the blast sent large materials out into space that eventually came together to create the moon.
There are many aspects of the moon that remain unknown, however. One question that NASA hopes to uncover is how the moon has evolved since that crash millions of years ago. Also, researchers have wondered why the near side of the moon, which is the side we see from Earth, is so different looking from the far side of the moon. The far side is much more mountainous while the near side consists of plains of volcanic rock.
"We don't actually know why the near side and far side of the moon are different," said Maria Zuber, head Grail investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "We think that the answer is locked in the interior."
Grail-A and Grail-B were set out to answer such questions, and after launching back in September, the two have finally
entered lunar orbit
to begin searching for clues. Grail-A entered orbit December 31, 2011 while Grail-B made its way to the moon January 1, 2012.
Now, the probes will spend two months orbiting the moon while gradually moving closer to the moon's surface. They'll eventually orbit 34 miles above the surface, and then begin an 82-day journey to find clues about the moon's past. They will search the moon "from crust to core" while remaining 75 to 225 miles apart depending on the differences in the lunar gravity field.
When the probes return their findings back to NASA, researchers will use the information to
create descriptive maps of the moon's
gravitational field, which will provide a better understanding of the moon's formation.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: why so long
1/2/2012 3:06:42 PM
They wanted a specific type of orbit for this mission so they had to launch the probes on a different trajectory that took longer to get there to achieve that specific orbit.
"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
Lunar Mining Sparks Race to the Moon
January 18, 2011, 2:07 PM
NASA Creates Unprecedented Map of the Moon
December 20, 2010, 3:27 PM
Researchers Discover Source of Moon's Magnetism
January 16, 2009, 11:46 AM
Cool Science Video of the Day: Carnivorous Leech Eats Giant Jungle Worm
October 16, 2014, 6:44 PM
Facebook CEO and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, Donates $25M to Fight Ebola
October 14, 2014, 5:06 PM
Chagrined Over Leaks, CDC Confirms First U.S. Ebola Diagnosis in Dallas, Texas
September 30, 2014, 5:55 PM
Nail Polish May Soon be Able to Detect Date Rape Drugs
August 26, 2014, 7:57 AM
SpaceX Falcon 9-R Rocket Suffers Malfunction, Self-Destructs During Test Flight
August 23, 2014, 9:36 AM
Texas Chosen as Site for SpaceX's First Commercial Launchpad
August 5, 2014, 1:44 PM
Most Popular Articles
Google Launches "Same-day Delivery" Subscription Service for $95/year
October 14, 2014, 10:37 AM
Google Announces Android 5.0 “Lollipop”, Nexus 9 Tablet, and Nexus 6 “Phablet”
October 15, 2014, 12:41 PM
Ireland to Close Loophole Apple and Google Used to Evade EU Taxes
October 13, 2014, 10:45 PM
Update: Motorola Droid Turbo Coming Oct 28, 48-hour Battery Life Confirmed
October 19, 2014, 9:19 PM
Samsung Develops 802.11 AD Wi-Fi, But Will it be Sunk by Poor Penetration?
October 14, 2014, 4:30 PM
Latest Blog Posts
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information