NASA and Lockheed Martin launch two Grail surveillance spacecraft to observe the moon

DENVER-Both of NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft went into orbit around the moon last month. The mission will analyze the physical makeup of the moon and its gravitational forces. Lockheed Martin built the twin robotic spacecraft and is conducting flight operations for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

NASA launched two GRAIL lunar-observation satellites into orbit to study the moon's physical makeup and gravitational forces.
NASA launched two GRAIL lunar-observation satellites into orbit to study the moon's physical makeup and gravitational forces.

The first orbiter, GRAIL-A, launched on Dec. 31, and the GRAIL-B spacecraft launched on Jan. 1. Both spacecraft are in elliptical polar orbits around the moon.

In early March, the twin robotic spacecraft will start mapping the gravitational field of the moon for nearly three months to determine the materials from which the lunar interior is made, from crust to core. NASA scientists also are trying to improve their understanding of how the moon evolved.

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

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Mil & Aero Magazine

April 2015
Volume 26, Issue 4
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