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.
- GRAIL Heading to the Moon With MoonKAM (wired.com)
- NASA Launch of the Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
- NASA sends twin moon probes into space (msnbc.msn.com)
- NASA’s Twin GRAIL Craft On Their Way To the Moon (science.slashdot.org)
- NASA Launches Twin Spacecraft to Probe Inside the Moon (space.com)
- NASA launches moon research mission (cnn.com)
- GRAIL on its way to the Moon! | Bad Astronomy (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- NASA’s New Moon Probes Carrying Lunar Cameras for Kids (livescience.com)
- NASA’s GRAIL mission will map the Moon’s gravity (gizmag.com)
- NASA launches twin satellites to map inner Moon (windsorstar.com)