GRAIL Launch

GRAIL lunar probes

Image via Wikipedia

Oops.

While polishing the article on Suitcase Nuclear Reactors, I missed the GRAIL launch to the Moon.  The GRAIL mission consists of a pair of satellites that will orbit the moon and use a Ka Band range finder to measure subtle differences in the distance between them in order to map the moon’s gravity. 

Both probes are also equipped with robotic cameras ( MoonKAM ) that Middle School students will use to take pictures of features on the moon’s surface.  Including this element in the mission is important as it builds interest in science amoung the people who will design, build, operate, and perhaps even fly on future space science ventures.  Years from now, some of them might get to see with their own eyes the things they will take images of next year.

Great launch.  They had to delay it for a couple of days because of high upper-level winds, but the probes went up and now they’re headed for the Moon.  It was fun to watch, even though I missed the drama of the live launch.

It’s great that NASA is doing something with the Moon, even if it is an unmanned, orbital mission.  They say the next launch will be to Mars.  Stay tuned!

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~ by Bill Housley on September 10, 2011.

One Response to “GRAIL Launch”

  1. GRAIL Lunar orbit insertion news conference happening today (12/28/2011) at 2pm Eastern.

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-395b#

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