Space

December 19, 2012

Lockheed Martin, NASA de-orbit twin Grail spacecraft into Moon

NASA’s Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory mission came to an end today as planned when the Lockheed Martin and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory flight operations team commanded the two spacecraft to de-orbit and impact the surface of the moon.

Lockheed Martin built the twin robotic spacecraft and conducted flight operations for NASA’s JPL since their launch on Sept. 10, 2011.

The first of the orbiters, Ebb, impacted a predetermined mountain near the lunar north pole at 3:28 p.m., MST, with its twin, Flow, hitting nearby 30 seconds later. Both were traveling at 3,760 mph.

Following a successful primary and secondary science mission of mapping the gravity of the moon, the washing machine-sized spacecraft were nearly out of fuel. JPL and Lockheed Martin worked together to send both spacecraft to the surface in a controlled manner at a known location.

“During this extended science campaign, the orbits were reduced to astonishing low altitudes. In some instances, the spacecraft flew less than 1.25 miles above the lunar topography,” said Stu Spath, GRAIL program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “These low trajectories have provided increased science visibility into the moon’s impact craters and other crustal features. Today marks a bittersweet end to a great mission.”

The GRAIL primary mission yielded the highest-resolution gravity field map of any celestial body. Future gravity field models developed from data collected during the extended mission will be of even higher resolution. The map will provide a better understanding of how the moon, Earth and other terrestrial planets in the solar system formed and evolved.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the GRAIL mission. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, is home to the mission’s principal investigator, Dr. Maria Zuber. The GRAIL mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA image

NASA spacecraft becomes first to orbit a dwarf planet

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA image Ceres is seen from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on March 1, just a few days before the mission achieved orbit around the previously unexplored dwarf planet. The image was taken at a dista...
 
 
nasa-obit

Astronaut, astrophysicist F. Curtin Michel Dies at 80

Former Astronaut Curtis Michel, 80, a member of the astronaut class of 1965 and renowned astrophysicist, died Feb. 26, at his home in Houston. Michel (pronounced My-kull) was selected as an Apollo Program astronaut in June 1965...
 
 
NASA/GSFC image

NASA research suggests Mars once had more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean

NASA/GSFC image NASA scientists have determined that a primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean and that the Red Planet has lost 87 percent of that water to space. A primitive ocean on Mars held m...
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA/CXC/DSS/Magellan

NASA’s Chandra Observatory finds cosmic showers halt galaxy growth

Image courtesy of NASA/CXC/DSS/Magellan A study of over 200 galaxy clusters, including Abell 2597 shown here, with NASAís Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed how an unusual form of cosmic precipitation stifles star formatio...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA NASA’s Dawn spacecraft took these images of dwarf planet Ceres from about 25,000 miles away Feb. 25, 2015. Ceres appears half in shadow because of the current position o...
 
 

Northrop Grumman’s AstroMesh reflector successfully deploys for NASA’s SMAP satellite

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully deployed the mesh reflector and boom aboard the Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft, a key milestone on its mission to provide global measurements of soil moisture. Launched Jan. 31, SMAP represents the future of Earth Science by helping researchers better understand our planet. SMAP’s unmatched data capabilities are enabled...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>