Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Space Travel News .




MOON DAILY
NASA Gravity Probes Prepare to Hit the Moon
by Dr. Tony Phillips for NASA Science News
Huntsville AL (SPX) Dec 14, 2012


illustration only

A pair of NASA spacecraft that have been studying the Moon's gravitational field are being prepared for a controlled descent into a mountain near the Moon's north pole. Impact is expected at about 2:28 p.m. PST (5:28 p.m. EST) on Monday, Dec. 17.

"It is going to be difficult to say goodbye to our little robotic twins," says MIT professor Maria Zuber, principal investigator of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. "Planetary science has advanced in a major way because of their contributions."

The two probes, named Ebb and Flow, are being sent purposely into the lunar surface because their low orbit and low fuel levels preclude further scientific operations.

Ebb and Flow's successful mission to the Moon has yielded the highest-resolution gravity field map of any celestial body. The map will provide a better understanding not only of the Moon, but also of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved.

The spacecraft have been flying in formation around the Moon since Jan. 1, 2012. They were named by elementary school students in Bozeman, Mont., who won a contest.

The first probe to reach the Moon, Ebb, also will be the first to go down, at 2:28:40 p.m. PST. Flow will follow Ebb about 20 seconds later. Both spacecraft will hit the surface at 3,760 mph (1.7 kilometers per second).

No imagery of the impact is expected because the region will be in shadow at the time. The impact site is located near a crater named Goldschmidt.

Ebb and Flow will conduct one final experiment before their mission ends. They will fire their main engines until their propellant tanks are empty to determine precisely the amount of fuel remaining in their tanks. This will help NASA engineers validate fuel consumption computer models to improve predictions of fuel needs for future missions.

"Our lunar twins may be in the twilight of their operational lives, but one thing is for sure, they are going down swinging," said GRAIL project manager David Lehman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"Even during the last half of their last orbit, we are going to do an engineering experiment that could help future missions operate more efficiently."

Because the exact amount of fuel remaining aboard each spacecraft is unknown, mission navigators and engineers designed the depletion burn to allow the probes to descend gradually for several hours and skim the surface of the moon until the elevated terrain of the target mountain gets in their way.

The burn that will change the spacecrafts' orbit is scheduled to take place Friday morning, Dec. 14.

"Such a unique end-of-mission scenario requires extensive and detailed mission planning and navigation," said Lehman.

"We've had our share of challenges during this mission and always come through in flying colors, but nobody I know around here has ever flown into a Moon mountain before. It'll be a first for us, that's for sure."

.


Related Links
GRAIL at NASA
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





MOON DAILY
Apollo's Lunar Dust Data Being Restored
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Dec 12, 2012
Forty years after the last Apollo spacecraft launched, the science from those missions continues to shape our view of the moon. In one of the latest developments, readings from the Apollo 14 and 15 dust detectors have been restored by scientists with the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "This is the first look at the fully c ... read more


MOON DAILY
ISRO planning 10 space missions in 2013

Russia works to fix satellite's off-target orbit

ULA Launch Monopoly to End

SPACEX Awarded Two EELV Class Missions From The USAF

MOON DAILY
Opportunity Checking Out Some Rocks At Matijevic Hill

Curiosity Rover Nearing Yellowknife Bay

Charitum Montes: a cratered winter wonderland

Opportunity Continues Rock Studies

MOON DAILY
NASA Gravity Probes Prepare to Hit the Moon

Apollo's Lunar Dust Data Being Restored

To the moon and back for less than 2 billion dollars

NASA's GRAIL Creates Most Accurate Moon Gravity Map

MOON DAILY
Halfway Between Uranus and Neptune, New Horizons Cruises On

Dwarf planet Makemake lacks atmosphere

Keck Observations Bring Weather Of Uranus Into Sharp Focus

At Pluto, Moons and Debris May Be Hazardous to New Horizons Spacecraft During Flyby

MOON DAILY
Astronomers discover and 'weigh' infant solar system

Search for Life Suggests Solar Systems More Habitable than Ours

Do missing Jupiters mean massive comet belts?

Brown Dwarfs May Grow Rocky Planets

MOON DAILY
US sends futuristic plane back into space

North Korea launches long-range rocket

US to launch anew secretive space plane

N. Korea replacing faulty rocket stage: report

MOON DAILY
Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

MOON DAILY
Big Asteroid Tumbles Harmlessly Past Earth

Student Team Provides Real-Time Video of Asteroid Toutatis

What is Creating Gullies on Vesta?

Heliophysics Nugget: Sungrazing Comets as Solar Probes




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement