Running out of fuel, NASA to control crash both GRAIL spacecraft into Moon on December 17

// December 13th, 2012 // Astronomy and Space News


Site that Ebb and Flow GRAIL craft will be crashed into

NASA announced today that its two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) Spacecraft, named Ebb and Flow, are running out of fuel and will be control crashed into a lunar mountain on December 17, 2012 at approximately 5:28 PM EST (Flow will crash 20 seconds after Ebb). The impact area is at latitude 75.62° N, longitude 26.63° E near the lunar North Pole in the vicinity of Goldschmidt crater.  According to GizMag:

“Launched in September 2011, the GRAIL spacecraft have been in polar orbit around the Moon, flying as low as 11 km (6.8 mi) to map lunar gravitational anomalies. The data from these measurements allowed NASA to create the highest resolution gravity map yet made of any body in the Solar System. The extended science mission will end on December 15 when the spacecrafts’ experiments are switched off.”

The impact area was chosen to avoid historic American and Russian lunar sites.  Before the impact, NASA will instruct the two crash to burn off their remaining fuel and then hurl themselves into the lunar surface.

Below is the detailed gravity map assembled by the Ebb and Flow GRAIL spacecraft.

Detailed gravity map created by GRAIL spacecraft

Sources: GizMag, NASA
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