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Moon NASA Science

Twin Probes Crash Into the Moon 79

Posted by timothy
from the as-promised dept.
SchrodingerZ writes "After their yearlong mission to map the Moon's gravitational field, twin probes Ebb and Flow crashed into the lunar surface, ending the GRAIL mission. The crashes were controlled events, each impacting 30 seconds apart from each other. The twin spacecraft were running low on maneuvering fuel and NASA, not wanting the craft to fall on historical sites such as the Apollo landing sites, redirected their flight patterns to impart the far (dark) side of the moon. Their impact sites were named after Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. 'During the news conference last week, Maria T. Zuber, the principal investigator, said the probes would be crashing into a "non-sunlit" part of the surface.' When the site becomes sunlit again in several weeks, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will attempt to take pictures of the craters the probes undoubtedly made in the lunar soil."
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Twin Probes Crash Into the Moon

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  • Re:Dark != Far (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Soft (266615) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @11:32AM (#42325773)

    ...the rotation of the moon just about exactly matches the revolution around the Earth

    I think we can say exactly, as it's not a coincidence that the rotations align like that, it's a stable configuration of two bodies in orbit

    Yes but there's still libration [wikipedia.org]. Although the Moon's rotation and revolution periods are indeed exactly the same, its orbital speed changes slightly over each orbit. So "just about exactly" is justified too.

  • by mcouper (128103) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @01:37PM (#42327325)

    Does anyone find a little sick irony in naming a crash site after an astronaut who perished in a crash?

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