GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

The cosmos at our fingertips.
User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

Post by bystander » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:25 am

GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission is a part of NASA's Discovery Program. It is scheduled to launch in 2011. GRAIL will fly twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

Scientists will use the gravity field information from the two satellites to X-ray the moon from crust to core to reveal the moon's subsurface structures and, indirectly, its thermal history.

The measurement technique that GRAIL will use was pioneered by the joint U.S.-German Earth observing Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, mission launched in 2002. The GRACE satellites measure gravity changes related to the movement of mass within Earth, such as the melting of ice at the poles and changes in ocean circulation. As with GRACE, both GRAIL spacecraft will be launched on a single launch vehicle.
GRAIL Spacecraft Takes Shape
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 28 July 2010

Engineers have conducted a fuel tank check of one of NASA's GRAIL mission spacecraft (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory), scheduled for launch in 2011. Confirming the size and fit of manufactured components is one of the steps required prior to welding the spacecraft's fuel tanks into the propulsion system's feed lines.

The image was taken on June 29, 2010, during the propulsion subsystem assembly and integration effort in the Space Support Building clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver.

The GRAIL mission will fly twin spacecraft (spacecraft "A" and "B") in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission will also answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon, and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

For more information about GRAIL, please visit: http://moon.mit.edu

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: GRAIL Launch Less Than One Month Away

Post by bystander » Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:14 pm

GRAIL Launch Less Than One Month Away
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2011 Aug 11
NASA's twin lunar probes – GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B - completed their final inspections and were weighed one final time at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Fla., on Tuesday. The two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft will orbit the moon in formation to determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon. GRAIL's launch period opens Sept. 8, 2011, and extends through Oct. 19. For a Sept. 8 liftoff, the launch window opens at 5:37 a.m. PDT (8:37 a.m. EDT) and remains open through 6:16 a.m. PDT (9:16 a.m. EDT).

Later this week, the two spacecraft will be loaded side-by-side on a special adapter and packaged inside a payload fairing that will protect them during their launch into space. Next week, GRAIL is expected to make the trip from Astrotech to Launch Complex 17 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where it will be mated with its United Launch Alliance Delta II Heavy rocket.

GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission will answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon, and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

NASA GRAIL Mission Page
MIT GRAIL Mission Page

NASA Primes Twin Moon Gravity Probes for September Launch
Space.com | Jason Rhian | 2011 Aug 12

GRAIL Twins ready for NASA Science Expedition to the Moon
Universe Today | Photo Gallery | Ken Kremer | 2011 Aug 12

Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)
The Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission will create the most accurate gravitational map of the Moon to date, improving our knowledge of near-side gravity by 100 times and of far-side gravity by 1000 times. The high-resolution gravitational field, especially when combined with a comparable-resolution topographical field, will enable scientists to deduce the Moon's interior structure and composition, and to gain insights into its thermal evolution--that is, the history of the Moon's heating and cooling, which opens the door to understanding its origin and development. Accurate knowledge of the gravity will also be an invaluable navigational aid to future lunar spacecraft. Ultimately, the information contributed by the GRAIL mission will increase our knowledge of how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.

Scheduled to launch in late 2011, GRAIL is a mission in NASA's Discovery Program of solar system investigations. GRAIL will begin its work at the Moon in 2012. Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., is the mission Principal Investigator.

In the course of the mission, GRAIL will conduct two important firsts. This will be the first time any space agency has attempted the complex set of maneuvers required to place two robotic spacecraft into the same precise orbit around a planetary body other than Earth so that they can fly in formation. And it will also be the first time a NASA planetary mission has carried an imager specifically for the purpose of education and public outreach: the MoonKAM cameras whose photographic targets will be chosen by middle school students under the auspices of Sally Ride Science.

Mission

The GRAIL mission will place two spacecraft into the same orbit around the Moon. As they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity, caused both by visible features such as mountains and craters and by masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, they will move slightly toward and away from each other. An instrument aboard each spacecraft will measure the changes in their relative velocity very precisely, and scientists will translate this information into a high-resolution map of the Moon's gravitational field.

This gravity-measuring technique is essentially the same as that of the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE), which has been mapping Earth's gravity since 2002.

Objectives

GRAIL's engineering objectives are to enable the science objectives of mapping lunar gravity and using that information to increase understanding of the Moon's interior and thermal history. Getting the two spacecraft where they need to be, when they need to be there, requires an extremely challenging set of maneuvers never before carried out in solar system exploration missions.

Mission Design

The two GRAIL spacecraft will be launched together and then will fly similar but separate trajectories to the Moon after separation from the launch vehicle, taking about 3 to 4 months to get there. They will spend about 2 months reshaping and merging their orbits until one spacecraft is following the other in the same low-altitude, near-circular, near-polar orbit, and they begin formation-flying. The next 82 days will constitute the science phase, during which the spacecraft will map the Moon's gravitational field.

Spacecraft and Payload

The two GRAIL spacecraft are near-twins, each about the size of a washing machine, with minor differences resulting from the need for one specific spacecraft (GRAIL-A) to follow the other (GRAIL-B) as they circle the Moon.

The science payload on each spacecraft is the Lunar Gravity Ranging System, which will measure changes in the distance between the two spacecraft down to a few microns -- about the diameter of a red blood cell. Each spacecraft will also carry a set of cameras for MoonKAM, marking the first time a NASA planetary mission has carried instruments expressly for an education and public outreach project.

Operations and Data Processing

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will manage GRAIL's mission operations and provide navigation and mission support using Multi-Mission Ground System Services and the Deep Space Network. GRAIL's industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, will conduct spacecraft flight operations from its Denver facility, which also supports operations of the Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter missions.

Initial data processing will be done at JPL with high reuse of software from the GRACE mission. Additional processing will be done at JPL, the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The science team members will perform advanced products and scientific interpretation. Final delivery of science data products to Planetary Data System (PDS) will be performed by MIT.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL Moon Twins are Joined to Their Booster

Post by bystander » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:11 am

GRAIL Moon Twins are Joined to Their Booster
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2011 Aug 18
NASA's lunar-bound GRAIL twins were mated to their Delta II launch vehicle at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 17 at 8:45 a.m. EDT (5:45 a.m. PDT) today. The 15-mile (25-kilometer) trip from Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., is the last move for GRAIL before it begins its journey to the moon. NASA's dynamic duo will orbit the moon to determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

"We are about to finish one chapter in the GRAIL story and open another," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL's principal investigator, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "Let me assure you this one is a real page-turner. GRAIL will rewrite the book on the formation of the moon and the beginning of us."

Now that the GRAIL spacecraft are atop their rocket, a final flurry of checks and tests can begin to confirm that all is go for launch. The final series of checks begins tomorrow, Aug. 19, with an on-pad functional test. The test is designed to confirm that the spacecraft is healthy after the fueling and transport operations. Next week, among all the upcoming final tests, reviews and closeout operations leading up to liftoff, the GRAIL team will install the launch vehicle fairing around the spacecraft.

GRAIL's launch period opens Sept. 8 and extends through Oct. 19. On each day, there are two separate instantaneous launch opportunities separated in time by approximately 39 minutes. On Sept. 8, the first launch opportunity is at 8:37 a.m. EDT (5:37 a.m. PDT). The second launch opportunity is 9:16 a.m. EDT (6:16 a.m. PDT).

GRAIL twins together on their rocket
Planetary Society | Emily Lakdawalla | 2011 Aug 18

GRAIL Lunar Twins Mated to Delta Rocket at Launch Pad
Universe Today | Ken Kremer | 2011 Aug 18
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 18805
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Re: GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

Post by neufer » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:41 pm

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Art Neuendorffer

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

Post by bystander » Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:59 pm

Probes to Take Long Way to the Moon
Discovery News | Irene Klotz | 2011 Aug 22
Two satellites will head for a celestial rest stop where Earth and sun's gravity balances out.

Flying to the moon takes about three days, but all that speed comes with a heavy price in fuel.

To lighten the load, NASA's newest lunar probes will take an indirect route to the moon, via a type of celestial way station where the sun's gravity and Earth's gravity balances out.

The primary goal of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission, nicknamed GRAIL, is to precisely map the moon's gravity so scientists can figure out what is inside the moon and how it formed.
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Along the way, however, GRAIL will demonstrate an alternative type of celestial navigation that takes advantage of one of several naturally occurring locations in space where orbital motion and gravitational forces balance out. These locations are called Lagrange points, named after mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange, who made their discovery in 1772.

Staged from Lagrange Point 1, or L1, which is located 1.5 million kilometers (932,0570 miles) inside Earth's orbit, part way between the sun and the Earth, the GRAIL satellites will take three to four months to reach the moon, said Ralph Roncoli, the GRAIL mission designer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

But the satellites will arrive with less relative speed than spacecraft making the trip in three days, which means less fuel will be needed to brake and drop into lunar orbit. Coming from L1 also means the twins can arrive on different days.

"It greatly simplifies the mission," GRAIL lead scientist Maria Zuber, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Discovery News.

The extra time in space also gives the GRAIL spacecraft time to vent gases that could impact their science measurements. To map the moon's gravity, scientists will be making measurements as precise as a couple of tenths of a micron per second. A micron is about the size of a red blood cell.

"We essentially measure the distance between two points, but we have to do it very, very well," Zuber said.

Once the moon's gravity fields are mapped, the data will be compared with topographical features, such as mountains and impact basins. The goal of the mission is to figure out the composition of the moon from crust to core and use that information to reconstruct the evolution of the moon.

Understanding how the moon formed provides a window into what terrestrial planets, including Earth, were like shortly after they formed, Zuber added.

"We can infer something about where we came from," she said.

GRAIL is closely based on a similar Earth-gravity mapping mission called Grace, which also made use of a Lagrange Point.

"The word is getting out about it," Zuber said, referring to Lagrange Point navigation and staging. "It's good place to study the sun, and it's pretty good place for astrophysical missions that want to minimize interference from Earth."

NASA GRAIL Moon Mission in Final Preparations for September Launch
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2011 Aug 25
NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission to study the moon is in final launch preparations for a scheduled Sept. 8 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
GRAIL's twin spacecraft are tasked for a nine-month mission to explore Earth's nearest neighbor in unprecedented detail. They will determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core and advance our understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

"Yesterday's final encapsulation of the spacecraft is an important mission milestone," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Our two spacecraft are now sitting comfortably inside the payload fairing which will protect them during ascent. Next time the GRAIL twins will see the light of day, they will be about 95 miles up and accelerating."

The spacecraft twins, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, will fly aboard a Delta II rocket launched from Florida. The twins' circuitous route to lunar orbit will take 3.5 months and cover approximately 2.6 million miles (4.2 million kilometers) for GRAIL-A, and 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) for GRAIL-B.

In lunar orbit, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them. Regional gravitational differences on the moon are expected to expand and contract that distance.

GRAIL scientists will use these accurate measurements to define the moon's gravity field. The data will allow mission scientists to understand what goes on below the surface of our natural satellite.

"GRAIL will unlock lunar mysteries and help us understand how the moon, Earth and other rocky planets evolved as well," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

GRAIL's launch period opens Sept. 8 and extends through Oct. 19. On each day, there are two separate launch opportunities separated by approximately 39 minutes. On Sept. 8, the first launch opportunity is 8:37 a.m. EDT (5:37 a.m. PDT); the second is 9:16 a.m. EDT (6:16 a.m. PDT).

NASA Sets GRAIL Launch Coverage Events
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2011 Aug 24

GRAIL Launch Press Kit (pdf)
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 18805
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Re: GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

Post by neufer » Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:54 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perceval,_the_Story_of_the_Grail wrote:
<<Perceval, the Story of the Grail (French: Perceval, le Conte du Graal) is the unfinished fifth romance of Chrétien de Troyes written between 1181 and 1191. The poem opens with Perceval, whose mother has raised him apart from civilization in the forests of Wales. Since his father's death, he continually encounters knights and realizes he wants to be one. Despite his mother's objections, the boy heads to King Arthur's court, where a young girl predicts greatness for him. He is taunted by Sir Kay, but amazes everyone by killing a knight who had been troubling King Arthur and taking his vermilion armor. He then sets out for adventure. He trains under the experienced Gornemant then falls in love with and rescues Gornemant's niece Blanchefleur. They agree to marry.

Returning home to visit his mother he comes across the Fisher King, who invites him to stay at his castle. While there he witnesses a strange procession in which young men and women carry magnificent objects from one chamber to another. First comes a young man carrying a bleeding lance, then two boys carrying candelabra. Finally, a beautiful young girl emerges bearing an elaborately decorated graal, or "grail" (a serving dish), passing before him at each course of the meal. Perceval, who had been warned against talking too much, remains silent through all of this and wakes up the next morning alone. He finds his mother is dead, then Arthur asks him to return to court. But before long, a loathly lady enters the court and admonishes Perceval for failing to ask his host whom the grail served and why the lance bled, as the appropriate question would have healed the wounded king.

No more is heard of Perceval except a short later passage in which a hermit explains that the grail contains a single mass-wafer that miraculously sustains the Fisher King’s wounded father. The loathly lady announces other quests that the Knights of the Round Table proceed to take up and the remainder of the poem deals with Arthur's nephew and best knight Gawain, who has been challenged to a duel by a knight who claims Gawain had slain his lord. Gawain offers a contrast and complement to Perceval's naiveté as a courtly knight having to function in un-courtly settings. An important episode is Gawain's liberation of a castle whose inhabitants include his long-lost mother and grandmother as well as his sister Clarissant, whose existence was unknown to him. This tale also breaks off unfinished.>>
Art Neuendorffer

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

Post by bystander » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:17 am

Twins to probe Moon's heart
Nature News | Eric Hand | 2011 Aug 30
NASA mission will survey lunar gravity to map the dense rock beneath the surface.
The Moon's face is an open book, but its deeper nature is still a mystery. Probes from Europe, Japan, India, China and the United States have imaged the lunar surface in exquisite detail, mapped its minerals, looked for evidence of water and scouted for potential landing sites. Now Maria Zuber, principal investigator for NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, which is set to launch on 8 September, wants to reveal the Moon's hidden history.

"I think we're going to find something quite surprising," says Zuber, a geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Her confidence stems from the maps of lunar gravity that GRAIL is set to provide — orders of magnitude better than any before. The density variations they aim to reveal in the subsurface rock should shed light on the Moon's tumultuous and geologically active past, help to determine whether it has a liquid core and yield clues to the underlying structure of its giant impact basins, the lunar 'maria'.

The GRAIL mission consists of twin spacecraft that are near replicas of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a pair of satellites that have orbited Earth since 2002, mapping the planet's gravity field so finely that they could see shifts in ground­water aquifers and ocean currents. Adapting that flight-tested technology helped to keep the cost of GRAIL to US$496 million. Another saving came in mission design: instead of blasting straight to the Moon, the spacecraft will ease into a lunar polar orbit after a three-and-a-half month journey, and only a modest amount of fuel will be needed for slowing down.

Apart from four cameras on each spacecraft, which will capture images for public outreach, GRAIL carries only one instrument — and it isn't even pointed at the Moon. As the two spacecraft coast 55 kilometres above the lunar surface, and 60–225 kilometres apart, a high-frequency radio link will measure the exact distance between them. As one probe approaches a high-density object — for example, a mountain — it will feel a slightly stronger gravitational force and will momentarily speed up, changing the separation from its companion. For GRAIL to deliver on its promise, such movements will need to be measured to a fraction of a micro­metre. Such precision will require taking into account the gravitational influence of distant planets, the movement of tectonic plates under tracking stations on Earth and even the pressure of sunlight on the spacecrafts' solar panels, says Zuber.

The Moon's gravity has already been mapped less precisely, by measuring, from Earth, the shifts in the speed of a single lunar orbiter — but this is impossible when the orbiter goes behind the Moon. SELENE (Kaguya), a Japanese mission launched in 2007, mapped gravity on the far side with the help of a relay satellite that orbited at a higher altitude, within radio-sight of both Earth and SELENE. But Zuber says that GRAIL's maps will be far more precise — even better than GRACE's maps of Earth, because the effects of Earth's atmospheric drag mean that the GRACE spacecraft have to orbit at altitudes ten times higher than GRAIL will.

One science target will be the Moon's deep structure. By bouncing lasers off reflectors left by the Apollo astronauts, researchers have picked up hints of a subtle wobbling, suggesting the presence of a soft core. Zuber says GRAIL should be able to confirm those hints, and might also find surprising additions to the core — for instance, by discerning whether compounds such as titanium oxide crystallized and sank into the core when the Moon was initially a ball of magma.

The overall findings could illuminate how planets in the inner Solar System cooled into layered structures. "It transcends just knowing about the Moon," says geologist Brad Jolliff of Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. "It helps us to understand how other rocky bodies differentiate." By probing the rocks around impact basins, Zuber says, GRAIL should also help modellers to understand the dynamics of giant impacts.

NASA's plans for exploring the Moon after GRAIL's 90-day mission are uncertain, says Chip Shearer, a planetary geologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and chair of NASA's Lunar Exploration Analysis Group. A wave of missions designed to support NASA's now-defunct Constellation programme, which envisioned returning humans to the Moon by 2020, is tapering off (see 'Moon rush'). The last of these, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), a mission to measure the effects of the Moon's fine dust, is due to launch in 2013. But two lunar science priorities aren't being addressed. A proposed mission, led by Jolliff, to return samples from the Moon's largest impact basin, near the south pole, lost out to a mission to return an asteroid sample. And advocates for the International Lunar Network, once a NASA-led endeavour to set up seismic detectors on the Moon's surface, have been told that they will have to compete for NASA's support with everybody else's Solar System proposals.

"We know what, in terms of lunar science, should come next," says Shearer. "But we don't know what will come next."
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL Launch Milestones

Post by bystander » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:43 am

GRAIL Launch Milestones
NASA JPL-Caltech GRAIL | 2011 Sept 07
NASA's GRAIL spacecraft are set to launch to the moon aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket on Sept. 8, 2011, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. There are two instantaneous (one-second) launch windows at 8:37:06 a.m. and 9:16:12 a.m. EDT. The launch period extends through Oct. 19. The launch times occur approximately four minutes earlier each day.
GRAIL's primary science objectives are to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core, and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

The lunar orbiters are nestled inside the top of a United Launch Alliance Delta II 7920H-10C rocket, the most powerful Delta rocket in NASA's inventory.

On launch day, Sept. 8, NASA TV commentary coverage of the countdown will begin at 6 a.m. EDT. The coverage will be webcast at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv. Live countdown coverage on NASA's launch blog also begins at 6 a.m. EDT at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/grail ... _blog.html. Coverage features real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff. To access these features, and for more information on GRAIL, visit http://moon.mit.edu/, http://www.nasa.gov/grail and http://grail.nasa.gov.

The launch will also be online, with a live chat available, on Ustream TV, at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 . To follow the GRAIL launch on Twitter, visit http://twitter.com/NASAJPL and http://twitter.com/NASA .

Here is a timeline of expected launch milestones:

Launch
  • At liftoff, the rocket's first-stage engine and six of its nine strap-on solid rocket motors will ignite, and the rocket will be airborne, carrying GRAIL up and over the Atlantic Ocean.
First six solid rocket motors are jettisoned
  • GRAIL's Delta II is carrying nine strap-on graphite-epoxy motors. The first six will be ignited at the time of liftoff. The remaining three will be ignited shortly after the first six strap-on motors burn out.
Fairing separates
  • After the Delta's first stage completes its tour of duty, its second stage, which will provide 9,645 pounds of kick for GRAIL, will begin the first of two scheduled burns. Shortly after ignition of the rocket's second stage, the Delta's 30-foot-long (8.88-meter-long) nose cone, or fairing, will separate and be jettisoned as planned, providing the GRAIL twins with their first taste of exo-atmospheric existence.
Parking at 17,500 miles per hour
  • The Delta's second stage will temporarily stop firing, as planned, and the rocket and GRAIL will begin a planned coast phase, also known as a "parking orbit" at about 90 miles (nearly 167 kilometers up).
GRAIL heading from Earth to the moon
  • The Delta's second stage will begin a second burn. This approximately four-and-a-half-minute-long burn will place GRAIL on its desired trajectory to the moon.
Spacecraft begin to separate from second stage
  • The GRAIL-A spacecraft begins its separation process from the Delta's second stage. The GRAIL-B spacecraft separates about 8 minutes later. At this point, the moon is three-and-a-half months away.

Last Delta II Rocket to Launch Extraordinary Journey to the Center of the Moon
Universe Today | Ken Kremer | 2011 Sept 07

How to watch the GRAIL launch on Thursday
Planetary Society | Emily Lakdawalla | 2011 Sept 06
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL Moon Mission Launch Rescheduled

Post by bystander » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:08 pm

GRAIL Moon Mission Launch Rescheduled
NASA JPL-Caltech GRAIL | 2011 Sept 08
The launch of a Delta II vehicle carrying NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) was scrubbed today, Thursday, Sept. 8, due to weather. Conditions associated with upper level winds were in violation of the launch criteria.

The Delta II and GRAIL are safe and secure at this time. The launch is rescheduled for Friday, Sept. 9, from Space Launch Complex-17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. There are two instantaneous launch opportunities at 8:33:25 a.m. EDT and 9:12:31 a.m. EDT. The forecast for tomorrow (Sept. 9) shows a 40 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch.

GRAIL launch scrubbed; try again tomorrow
Planetary Society | Emily Lakdawalla | 2011 Sept 08

GRAIL on the Pad
NASA IOTD | 2011 Sept 08
NASA's GRAIL twin spacecraft await launch atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/United Launch Alliance, Thom Baur

To the Moon
MIT News | GRAIL | 2011 Sept 08
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

Post by bystander » Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:47 pm

Launch Postponed Until Saturday
NASA JPL-Caltech GRAIL | 2011 Sept 08
The launch of a Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) has been postponed one day to allow additional time to review propulsion system data from Thursday's detanking operation after the launch attempt was scrubbed due to upper level winds. The postponement will allow the launch team additional time to review the data.

The launch now is planned for Saturday, Sept. 10, from Space Launch Complex-17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. There are two instantaneous launch opportunities at 8:29:45 a.m. and 9:08:52 a.m. EDT (5:29:45 a.m. and 6:08:52 a.m. PDT). The forecast for Sept. 10 shows a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for a Saturday morning launch.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL and the Mystery of the Missing Moon

Post by bystander » Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:00 pm

GRAIL and the Mystery of the Missing Moon
NASA Science News | Dauna Coulter | 2011 Sept 07
[img3="The "Big Splat" Four snapshots from a computer simulation of a collision between the Moon and a smaller companion show how the splattered companion moon forms a mountainous region on one side of the Moon. (Credit: M. Jutzi and E. Asphaug, Nature)"]http://news.ucsc.edu/2011/08/images/figure-1-400.jpg[/img3]
As early as Sept. 8th, NASA's GRAIL mission will blast off to uncover some of the mysteries beneath the surface of the Moon. That cratered gray exterior hides some tantalizing things – even, perhaps, a long-lost companion.

If a paper published recently in the journal Nature* is right, two moons once graced our night skies. The proposition has not been proven, but has drawn widespread attention.

"It's an intriguing idea," says David Smith, GRAIL's deputy principal investigator at MIT. "And it would be a way to explain one of the great perplexities of the Earth-Moon system – the Moon's strangely asymmetrical nature. Its near and far sides are substantially different."

The Moon's near side, facing us, is dominated by vast smooth 'seas' of ancient hardened lava. In contrast, the far side is marked by mountainous highlands. Researchers have long struggled to account for the differences, and the "two moon" theory introduced by Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug of the University of California at Santa Cruz is the latest attempt.

Scientists agree that when a Mars-sized object crashed into our planet about 4 billion years ago, the resulting debris cloud coalesced to form the Moon. Jutzi and Asphaug posit that the debris cloud actually formed two moons. A second, smaller chunk of debris landed in just the right orbit to lead or follow the bigger Moon around Earth.

"Normally, such moons accrete into a single body shortly after formation," explains Smith. "But the new theory proposes that the second moon ended up at one of the Lagrange points in the Earth-Moon system."

Lagrange points are a bit like gravitational fly traps. They can hold an object for a long time--but not necessarily forever. The second moon eventually worked its way out and collided with its bigger sister. The collision occurred at such a low velocity that the impact did not form a crater. Instead, the smaller moon 'went splat,' forming the contemporary far side highlands.

In short, the lunar highlands are the lost moon's remains.
"By probing the Moon's gravity field, GRAIL will 'see' inside the Moon, illuminating the differences between the near and far sides."

GRAIL will fly twin spacecraft around the Moon for several months. All the while, a microwave ranging system will precisely measure the distance between the two spacecraft. By watching that distance expand and contract as the pair fly over the lunar surface, researchers can map the Moon's underlying gravity field.**

"These measurements will tell us a lot about the distribution of material inside the Moon, and give us pretty definitive information about the differences in the two sides of the Moon's crust and mantle. If the density of crustal material on the lunar far side differs from that on the near side in a particular way, the finding will lend support to the 'two moon' theory."

But this information is just one "piece of the jigsaw puzzle." To prove a sister ever existed, other pieces are needed. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has already provided key information on the Moon's surface topography. Scientists can also refer to lunar surface chemistry data and look at old seismic information from Apollo for clues.

But what's really needed, says Smith, is a sample return mission to the far side to determine the ages of rocks there.

"The smaller moon, if there was one, was about 1/3 the size of our current Moon. So upon collision it would have cooled down faster, and the rocks on the far side, where its remains are thought to have spread, would be older than the ones on the near side."

In any case, we have something new to think about. Shall we try singing "fly me to the moons" or "shine on harvest moons"?

"Don't go changing any song lyrics just yet," says Smith.

http://asterisk.apod.com/viewtopic.php?t=24742&p=154481
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL Mission to the Moon Underway

Post by bystander » Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:50 pm

NASA GRAIL Mission to the Moon Underway
NASA JPL-Caltech GRAIL | 2011 Sept 10
NASA's GRAIL mission to study the moon from crust to core successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Pad SLC-17B at 9:08 a.m. EDT (6:08 a.m. PDT). Mission controllers will await communication in approximately 90 minutes from the lunar duo indicating they have achieved proper orientation and deployed their solar arrays.

"We are on our way, and early indications show everything is looking good," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We will know more about GRAIL's status in a few hours, after an opportunity to analyze telemetry and poll our mission controllers."

After GRAIL's ride aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket comes to an end, the spacecraft will be on a path that will reach the moon in three-and-a-half months.
  • NASA's twin GRAIL spacecraft have successfully separated from the upper stage of their Delta II rocket. They are on their way to the moon.
  • Engineers have received communications from both GRAIL spacecraft, and their solar arrays have deployed.

NASA Launches Mission to Study Moon From Crust to Core
NASA JPL-Caltech GRAIL | 2011 Sept 10
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
NASA's twin lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:08 a.m. EDT (6:08 a.m. PDT) Saturday, Sept. 10, to study the moon in unprecedented detail.

GRAIL-A is scheduled to reach the moon on New Year's Eve 2011, while GRAIL-B will arrive New Year's Day 2012. The two solar-powered spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon to measure its gravity field. GRAIL will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

"If there was ever any doubt that Florida's Space Coast would continue to be open for business, that thought was drowned out by the roar of today's GRAIL launch," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "GRAIL and many other exciting upcoming missions make clear that NASA is taking its next big leap into deep space exploration, and the space industry continues to provide the jobs and workers needed to support this critical effort."

The spacecraft were launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. GRAIL mission controllers acquired a signal from GRAIL-A at 10:29 a.m. EDT (7:29 a.m. PDT). GRAIL-B's signal was received eight minutes later. The telemetry downlinked from both spacecraft indicates they have deployed their solar panels and are operating as expected.

"Our GRAIL twins have Earth in their rearview mirrors and the moon in their sights," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The mission team is ready to test, analyze and fine-tune our spacecraft over the next three-and-a-half months on our journey to lunar orbit."

The straight-line distance from Earth to the moon is approximately 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometers). NASA's Apollo moon crews needed approximately three days to cover that distance. However, each spacecraft will take approximately 3.5 months and cover more than 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) to arrive. This low-energy trajectory results in the longer travel time. The size of the launch vehicle allows more time for spacecraft check-out and time to update plans for lunar operations. The science collection phase for GRAIL is expected to last 82 days.

"Since the earliest humans looked skyward, they have been fascinated by the moon," said GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "GRAIL will take lunar exploration to a new level, providing an unprecedented characterization of the moon's interior that will advance understanding of how the moon formed and evolved."

Photos: NASA Launches Twin Grail Gravity Probes to the Moon
Space.com | Image Album | 2011 Sept 10

NASA Launches Twin Spacecraft to Probe Inside the Moon
Space.com | Denise Chow | 2011 Sept 10

NASA Sets Sights on Mars After Unmanned Moon Shot
Space.com | Denise Chow | 2011 Sept 10

GRAIL A and B are on their way to the Moon!
Planetary Society | Emily Lakdawalla | 2011 Sept 10

GRAIL on its way to the Moon!
Discovery Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2011 Sept 10

NASA Twin Science Probes Launched to the Moon
Discovery News | Irene Klotz | 2011 Sept 10

GRAIL Heads for the Moon
Sky & Telescope | Kelly Beatty | 2011 Sept 10

Twin NASA craft launched to study insides of moon
PhysOrg | Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace | 2011 Sept 10

NASA launches Twin Lunar Probes to Unravel Moons Core
Universe Today Ken Kremer | 2011 Sept 10
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

Post by bystander » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:18 pm

NASA's Moon Twins Going Their Own Way
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2011 Oct 06
NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)-B spacecraft successfully executed its first flight path correction maneuver Wednesday, Oct. 5. The rocket burn helped refine the spacecraft's trajectory as it travels from Earth to the moon and provides separation between itself and its mirror twin, GRAIL-A. The first burn for GRAIL-A occurred on Sept. 30.

"Both spacecraft are alive and with these burns, prove that they're kicking too, as expected," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "There is a lot of time and space between now and lunar orbit insertion, but everything is looking good."

GRAIL-B's rocket burn took place on Oct. 5 at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT). The spacecraft's main engine burned for 234 seconds and imparted a velocity change of 56.1 mph (25.1 meters per second) while expending 8.2 pounds (3.7 kilograms) of propellant. GRAIL-A's burn on Sept. 30 also took place at 11 a.m. PDT. It lasted 127 seconds and imparted a 31.3 mph (14 meters per second) velocity change on the spacecraft while expending 4 pounds (1.87 kilograms) of propellant.

These burns are designed to begin distancing GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B's arrival times at the moon by approximately one day and to insert them onto the desired lunar approach paths.

The straight-line distance from Earth to the moon is about 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometers). It took NASA's Apollo moon crews about three days to cover that distance. Each of the GRAIL twins is taking about 30 times that long and covering more than 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) to get there. This low-energy, high-cruise time trajectory is beneficial for mission planners and controllers, as it allows more time for spacecraft checkout. The path also provides a vital component of the spacecraft's single science instrument, the Ultra Stable Oscillator, to be continuously powered for several months, allowing it to reach a stable operating temperature long before beginning the collection of science measurements in lunar orbit.

GRAIL-A will enter lunar orbit on New Year's Eve, and GRAIL-B will follow the next day. When science collection begins, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon. Regional gravitational differences on the moon are expected to expand and contract that distance. GRAIL scientists will use these accurate measurements to define the moon's gravity field. The data will allow mission scientists to understand what goes on below the surface of our natural satellite.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

NASA/JPL: GRAIL Twins on Final Approach for Moon Orbit

Post by bystander » Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:12 pm

NASA Twin Spacecraft On Final Approach For Moon Orbit
NASA HQ | JPL-Caltech | MIT | 2011 Dec 28
NASA's twin spacecraft to study the moon from crust to core are nearing their New Year's Eve and New Year's Day main-engine burns to place the duo in lunar orbit.

Named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), the spacecraft are scheduled to be placed in orbit beginning at 1:21 p.m. PST (4:21 p.m. EST) for GRAIL-A on Dec. 31, and 2:05 p.m. PST (5:05 p.m. EST) on Jan. 1 for GRAIL-B.

"Our team may not get to partake in a traditional New Year's celebration, but I expect seeing our two spacecraft safely in lunar orbit should give us all the excitement and feeling of euphoria anyone in this line of work would ever need," said David Lehman, project manager for GRAIL at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.

The distance from Earth to the moon is approximately 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometers). NASA's Apollo crews took about three days to travel to the moon. Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sept. 10, 2011, the GRAIL spacecraft are taking about 30 times that long and covering more than 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) to get there.

This low-energy, long-duration trajectory has given mission planners and controllers more time to assess the spacecraft's health. The path also allowed a vital component of the spacecraft's single science instrument, the Ultra Stable Oscillator, to be continuously powered for several months. This will allow it to reach a stable operating temperature long before it begins making science measurements in lunar orbit.

"This mission will rewrite the textbooks on the evolution of the moon," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. "Our two spacecraft are operating so well during their journey that we have performed a full test of our science instrument and confirmed the performance required to meet our science objectives."

As of Dec. 28, GRAIL-A is 65,860 miles (106,000 kilometers) from the moon and closing at a speed of 745 mph (1,200 kph). GRAIL-B is 79,540 miles (128,000 kilometers) from the moon and closing at a speed of 763 mph (1,228 kph).

During their final approaches to the moon, both orbiters move toward it from the south, flying nearly over the lunar south pole. The lunar orbit insertion burn for GRAIL-A will take approximately 40 minutes and change the spacecraft's velocity by about 427 mph (688 kph). GRAIL-B's insertion burn 25 hours later will last about 39 minutes and is expected to change the probe's velocity by 430 mph (691 kph).

The insertion maneuvers will place each orbiter into a near-polar, elliptical orbit with a period of 11.5 hours. Over the following weeks, the GRAIL team will execute a series of burns with each spacecraft to reduce their orbital period from 11.5 hours down to just under two hours. At the start of the science phase in March 2012, the two GRAILs will be in a near-polar, near-circular orbit with an altitude of about 34 miles (55 kilometers).

When science collection begins, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon. As they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity, caused both by visible features such as mountains and craters and by masses hidden beneath the lunar surface. they will move slightly toward and away from each other. An instrument aboard each spacecraft will measure the changes in their relative velocity very precisely, and scientists will translate this information into a high-resolution map of the Moon's gravitational field. The data will allow mission scientists to understand what goes on below the surface. This information will increase our knowledge of how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.

Images & Videos
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: GRAIL-A Enters Moon Orbit

Post by bystander » Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:26 am

First of NASA's GRAIL Spacecraft Enters Moon Orbit
NASA JPL-Caltech GRAIL | 2011 Dec 31
The first of two NASA spacecraft to study the moon in unprecedented detail has entered lunar orbit.

NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)-A spacecraft successfully completed its planned main engine burn at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST) today. As of 3 p.m. PST (6 p.m. EST), GRAIL-A is in an orbit of 56 miles by 5,197 miles (90 kilometers by 8,363 kilometers) around the moon that takes approximately 11.5 hours to complete.

"My resolution for the new year is to unlock lunar mysteries and understand how the moon, Earth and other rocky planets evolved," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "Now, with GRAIL-A successfully placed in orbit around the moon, we are one step closer to achieving that goal."

The next mission milestone occurs tomorrow when GRAIL-A's mirror twin, GRAIL-B, performs its own main engine burn to place it in lunar orbit. At 3 p.m. PST (6 p.m. EST) today, GRAIL-B was 30,018 miles (48,309 kilometers) from the moon and closing at a rate of 896 mph (1,442 kilometers per hour). GRAIL-B's insertion burn is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Jan. 1, at 2:05 p.m. PST (5:05 p.m. EST) and will last about 39 minutes.

"With GRAIL-A in lunar orbit we are halfway home," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Tomorrow may be New Year's everywhere else, but it's another work day around the moon and here at JPL for the GRAIL team."

Once both spacecraft are confirmed in orbit and operating, science work will begin in March. The spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon in formation. As they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity caused by both visible features, such as mountains and craters, and masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, the distance between the two spacecraft will change slightly.

Scientists will translate this information into a high-resolution map of the moon's gravitational field. The data will allow scientists to understand what goes on below the lunar surface. This information will increase knowledge of how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: GRAIL Twins Reunited in Lunar Orbit

Post by bystander » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:43 am

Twin Grail Spacecraft Reunite in Lunar Orbit
NASA JPL-Caltech GRAIL | 2012 Jan 01
The second of NASA's two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft has successfully completed its planned main engine burn and is now in lunar orbit. Working together, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will study the moon as never before.

"NASA greets the new year with a new mission of exploration," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "The twin GRAIL spacecraft will vastly expand our knowledge of our moon and the evolution of our own planet. We begin this year reminding people around the world that NASA does big, bold things in order to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown."

GRAIL-B achieved lunar orbit at 2:43 p.m. PST (5:43 p.m. EST) today. GRAIL-A successfully completed its burn yesterday at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST). The insertion maneuvers placed the spacecraft into a near-polar, elliptical orbit with an orbital period of approximately 11.5 hours. Over the coming weeks, the GRAIL team will execute a series of burns with each spacecraft to reduce their orbital period to just under two hours. At the start of the science phase in March 2012, the two GRAILs will be in a near-polar, near-circular orbit with an altitude of about 34 miles (55 kilometers).

During GRAIL's science mission, the two spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them. As they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity caused by visible features such as mountains and craters, and masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, the distance between the two spacecraft will change slightly.

Scientists will translate this information into a high-resolution map of the moon's gravitational field. The data will allow scientists to understand what goes on below the lunar surface. This information will increase knowledge of how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.

Each spacecraft carries a small camera called GRAIL MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) with the sole purpose of education and public outreach. The MoonKAM program is led by Sally Ride, America's first woman in space, and her team at Sally Ride Science in collaboration with undergraduate students at the University of California in San Diego.

GRAIL MoonKAM will engage middle schools across the country in the GRAIL mission and lunar exploration. Thousands of fifth- to eighth-grade students will select target areas on the lunar surface and send requests to the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission Operations Center in San Diego. Photos of the target areas will be sent back by the GRAIL satellites for students to study.

A student contest that began in October 2011 also will choose new names for the spacecraft. The new names are scheduled to be announced in January 2012. Ride and Maria Zuber, the mission's principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, chaired the final round of judging.

NASA sends GRAIL shaped beacon to the Moon
Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2012 Jan 01
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: Montana Students Pick Winning Names for Moon Craft

Post by bystander » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:11 pm

Montana Students Pick Winning Names for Moon Craft
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2012 Jan 17
Twin NASA spacecraft that achieved orbit around the moon New Year's Eve and New Year's Day have new names, thanks to elementary students in Bozeman, Mont. Their winning entry, "Ebb and Flow," was selected as part of a nationwide school contest that began in October 2011.

The names were submitted by fourth graders from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School. Nearly 900 classrooms with more than 11,000 students from 45 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia participated in the contest. Previously named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL-A and -B, the washing machine-sized spacecraft begin science operations in March, after a launch in September 2011.

"The 28 students of Nina DiMauro's class at the Emily Dickinson Elementary School have really hit the nail on the head," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. "We were really impressed that the students drew their inspiration by researching GRAIL and its goal of measuring gravity. Ebb and Flow truly capture the spirit and excitement of our mission."

Zuber and Sally Ride, America's first woman in space and CEO of Sally Ride Science in San Diego, selected the names following the contest, which attracted 890 proposals via the Internet. The contest invited ideas from students ages 5 to 18 enrolled in U.S. schools. Although everything from spelling and grammar to creativity was considered, Zuber and Ride primarily took into account the quality of submitted essays.

"With submissions from all over the United States and even some from abroad, there were a lot of great entries to review," Ride said. "This contest generated a great deal of excitement in classrooms across America, and along with it an opportunity to use that excitement to teach science."

GRAIL is NASA's first planetary mission carrying instruments fully dedicated to education and public outreach. Each spacecraft carries a small camera called GRAIL MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students). Thousands of students in grades five through eight will select target areas on the lunar surface and send requests for study to the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission Operations Center in San Diego.

The winning prize for the Dickinson students is to choose the first camera images. Dickinson is one of nearly 2,000 schools registered for the MoonKAM program, which is led by Ride and her team at Sally Ride Science in collaboration with undergraduate students at the University of California in San Diego.

"These spacecraft represent not only great science, but great inspiration for our future," said Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in Washington. "As they study our lunar neighbor, Ebb and Flow will undergo nearly the same motion as the tides we feel here on Earth."

Launched in September 2011, Ebb and Flow will be placed in a near-polar, near-circular orbit with an altitude of about 34 miles (55 kilometers). During their science mission, the duo will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

The GRAIL Spacecraft Names
At the end of a nation-wide school contest, on Tuesday, January 17, 2012, the GRAIL Spacecraft officially received their new names, EBB & FLOW.

GRAIL-A name: EBB
GRAIL-B name: FLOW

Winning School: Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Montana
Winning Classroom: Nina DiMauro's 4th Grade

Winning Essay:
"We have been studying the Solar System and learning about the Sun, Planets, and the Moon. We think Ebb and Flow (or Flood) are good names for Grail-A and Grail-B because the Moon's gravity is the reason we have high tides and low tides. We thought it would be good to have names that represent something very important about the moon and what it causes to happen on Earth. Grail-A and Grail-B are on a journey just like the Moon is on a journey around Earth."
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL Returns First Video From Moon's Far Side

Post by bystander » Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:29 am

NASA Mission Returns First Video From Moon's Far Side
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2012 Feb 01
A camera aboard one of NASA's twin Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft has returned its first unique view of the far side of the moon. MoonKAM, or Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students, will be used by students nationwide to select lunar images for study.

GRAIL consists of two identical spacecraft, recently named Ebb and Flow, each of which is equipped with a MoonKAM. The images were taken as part of a test of Ebb's MoonKAM on Jan. 19. The GRAIL project plans to test the MoonKAM aboard Flow at a later date.

In the video, the north pole of the moon is visible at the top of the screen as the spacecraft flies toward the lunar south pole. One of the first prominent geological features seen on the lower third of the moon is the Mare Orientale, a 560 mile wide (900 kilometer) impact basin that straddles both the moon's near and far side.

The clip ends with rugged terrain just short of the lunar south pole. To the left of center, near the bottom of the screen, is the 93-mile-wide (149 kilometer) Drygalski crater with a distinctive star-shaped formation in the middle. The formation is a central peak, created many billions of years ago by a comet or asteroid impact.

The quality of the video is excellent and should energize our MoonKAM students as they prepare to explore the moon," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

The twin spacecraft successfully achieved lunar orbit this past New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Previously named GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, the washing machine-sized spacecraft received their new names from fourth graders at the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., following a nationwide student naming contest.

Thousands of fourth- to eighth-grade students will select target areas on the lunar surface and send requests to the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission Operations Center in San Diego. Photos of the target areas will be sent back by the satellites for students to study. The MoonKAM program is led by Sally Ride, America's first woman in space. Her team at Sally Ride Science and undergraduate students at the University of California in San Diego will engage middle schools across the country in the GRAIL mission and lunar exploration. GRAIL is NASA's first planetary mission carrying instruments fully dedicated to education and public outreach.

"We have had great response from schools around the country; more than 2,500 signed up to participate so far," Ride said. "In mid-March, the first pictures of the moon will be taken by students using MoonKAM. I expect this will excite many students about possible careers in science and engineering."

Launched in September 2011, Ebb and Flow periodically perform trajectory correction maneuvers that, over time, will lower their orbits to near-circular ones with an altitude of about 34 miles (55 kilometers). During their science mission, the duo will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

GRAIL Sends Back First Video of the Moon’s Far Side
Universe Today | Nancy Atkinson | 2012 Feb 01

GRAIL MoonKAM's first (released) video of the Moon
Planetary Society | Emily Lakdawalla | 2012 Feb 01

Video of the lunar far side from GRAIL/Ebb
Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2012 Feb 03
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL Begins Collecting Lunar Data

Post by bystander » Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:08 pm

NASA's Twin GRAIL Spacecraft Begin Collecting Lunar Data
NASA JPL-Caltech | 2012 Mar 07
NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft orbiting the moon officially have begun their science collection phase. During the next 84 days, scientists will obtain a high-resolution map of the lunar gravitational field to learn about the moon's internal structure and composition in unprecedented detail. The data also will provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved.

"The initiation of science data collection is a time when the team lets out a collective sigh of relief because we are finally doing what we came to do," said Maria Zuber, principal investigator for the GRAIL mission at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, "but it is also a time where we have to put the coffee pot on, roll up our sleeves and get to work."

The GRAIL mission's twin, washing-machine-sized spacecraft, named Ebb and Flow, entered lunar orbit on New Year's Eve and New Years Day. GRAIL's science phase began yesterday at 5:15 p.m. PST (8:15 p.m. EST). During this mission phase, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the rate of change of distance between the two. The distance between the spacecraft will change slightly as they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity caused by visible features such as mountains, craters and masses hidden beneath the lunar surface. Science activities are expected to conclude on May 29, after GRAIL maps the gravity field of the moon three times.

"We are in a near-polar, near-circular orbit with an average altitude of about 34 miles (55 kilometers) right now," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "During the science phase, our spacecraft will orbit the moon as high as 31 miles (51 kilometers) and as low as 10 miles (16 kilometers). They will get as close to each other as 40 miles (65 kilometers) and as far apart as 140 miles (225 kilometers)."
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 18805
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Re: GRAIL Begins Collecting Lunar Data

Post by neufer » Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:20 pm

The GRAIL mission's twin, washing-machine-sized spacecraft, named EBB & FLOW, entered lunar orbit on New Year's Eve and New Years Day. GRAIL's science phase began yesterday at 5:15 p.m. PST (8:15 p.m. EST). During this mission phase, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the rate of change of distance between the two. The distance between the spacecraft will change slightly as they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity caused by visible features such as mountains, craters and masses hidden beneath the lunar surface. "We are in a near-polar, near-circular orbit with an average altitude of about 34 miles right now," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "During the science phase, our spacecraft will orbit the moon as high as 31 miles and as low as 10 miles. They will get as close to each other as 40 miles and as far apart as 140 miles."
Art Neuendorffer

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL Returns First Student-Selected Moon Images

Post by bystander » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:48 pm

GRAIL Returns First Student-Selected Moon Images
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2012 Mar 22
One of two NASA spacecraft orbiting the moon has beamed back the first student-requested pictures of the lunar surface from its onboard camera. Fourth grade students from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., received the honor of making the first image selections by winning a nationwide competition to rename the two spacecraft.

The image was taken by the MoonKam, or Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students. Previously named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) A and B, the twin spacecraft are now called Ebb and Flow. Both washing-machine-sized orbiters carry a small MoonKAM camera. Over 60 student-requested images were taken by the Ebb spacecraft from March 15-17 and downlinked to Earth March 20.

"MoonKAM is based on the premise that if your average picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture from lunar orbit may be worth a classroom full of engineering and science degrees," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL mission principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. "Through MoonKAM, we have an opportunity to reach out to the next generation of scientists and engineers. It is great to see things off to such a positive start."

GRAIL is NASA's first planetary mission to carry instruments fully dedicated to education and public outreach. Students will select target areas on the lunar surface and request images to study from the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission Operations Center in San Diego.

The MoonKAM program is led by Sally Ride, America's first woman in space, and her team at Sally Ride Science in collaboration with undergraduate students at the University of California in San Diego. More than 2,700 schools spanning 52 countries are using the MoonKAM cameras.

"What might seem like just a cool activity for these kids may very well have a profound impact on their futures," Ride said. "The students really are excited about MoonKAM, and that translates into an excitement about science and engineering."

Launched in September 2011, Ebb and Flow will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

How students take pictures from lunar orbit with GRAIL's MoonKAM (Infographic)
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL Completes Prime Mission Ahead of Schedule

Post by bystander » Tue May 29, 2012 10:42 pm

NASA Lunar Spacecraft Complete Prime Mission Ahead of Schedule
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2012 May 29
A NASA mission to study the moon from crust to core has completed its prime mission earlier than expected. The team of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, with twin probes named Ebb and Flow, is now preparing for extended science operations starting Aug. 30 and continuing through Dec. 3, 2012.

The GRAIL mission has gathered unprecedented detail about the internal structure and evolution of the moon. This information will increase our knowledge of how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.

Since March 8, the spacecraft have operated around the clock for 89 days. From an orbit that passes over the lunar poles, they have collected data covering the entire surface three times. An instrument called the Lunar Gravity Ranging System onboard each spacecraft transmits radio signals that allow scientists to translate the data into a high-resolution map of the moon's gravitational field. The spacecraft returned their last data set of the prime mission today. The instruments were turned off at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) when the spacecraft were 37 miles (60 kilometers) above the Sea of Nectar.

"Many of the measurement objectives were achieved from analysis of only half the primary mission data, which speaks volumes about the skill and dedication of our science and engineering teams," said Maria Zuber, principal investigator of GRAIL at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "While there is a great deal of work yet to be done to achieve the mission's science, it's energizing to realize that what we traveled from Earth to the moon for is right here in our hands."

"GRAIL delivered to Earth over 99.99 percent of the data that could have been collected, which underscores the flawless performance of the spacecraft, instrument and the Deep Space Network," said Zuber.

Both spacecraft instruments will be powered off until Aug. 30. The spacecraft will have to endure a lunar eclipse on June 4. The eclipse and the associated sudden changes in temperature and the energy-sapping darkness that accompanies the phenomena were expected and do not concern engineers about the spacecraft's health.

"Before launch, we planned for all of GRAIL's primary mission science to occur between lunar eclipses," said David Lehman, project manager of GRAIL from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "But now that we have flown Ebb and Flow for a while, we understand them and are confident they can survive these eclipses in good shape."

The extended mission goal is to take an even closer look at the moon's gravity field. To achieve this, GRAIL mission planners will halve their current operating altitude to the lowest altitude that can be safely maintained.

"Orbiting at an average altitude of 14 miles (23 kilometers) during the extended mission, the GRAIL twins will be clearing some of the moon's higher surface features by about 5 miles (8 kilometers)," said Joe Beerer of JPL, GRAIL's mission manager. "If Ebb and Flow had feet, I think by reflex they'd want to pull them up every time they fly over a mountain."

Along with mission science, GRAIL's MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) education and public outreach program is also extended. To date over 70,000 student images of the moon have been obtained.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

GRAIL Moon Twins Begin Extended Mission Science

Post by bystander » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:59 pm

GRAIL Moon Twins Begin Extended Mission Science
NASA JPL-Caltech | GRAIL | 2012 Aug 31
NASA's twin, lunar-orbiting Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft began data collection for the start of the mission's extended operations.

At 9:28 a.m. PDT (12:28 p.m. EDT) yesterday, while the two spacecraft were 19 miles (30 kilometers) above the moon's Ocean of Storms, the Lunar Gravity Ranging System -- the mission's sole science instrument aboard both GRAIL twins -- was energized.

"The data collected during GRAIL's primary mission team are currently being analyzed and hold the promise of producing a gravity field map of extraordinary quality and resolution," said Maria Zuber, principal investigator for GRAIL from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "Mapping at a substantially lower altitude during the extended mission, and getting an even more intimate glimpse of our nearest celestial neighbor, provides the unique opportunity to globally map the shallow crust of a planetary body beyond Earth."

The science phase of GRAIL's extended mission runs from Aug. 30 to Dec. 3. Its goals are to take an even closer look at the moon's gravity field, deriving the gravitational influence of surface and subsurface features as small as simple craters, mountains and rilles. To achieve this unprecedented resolution, GRAIL mission planners are halving the operating altitude - flying at the lowest altitude that can be safely maintained.

During the prime mission, which stretched from March 1 to May 29, the two GRAIL spacecraft, named Ebb and Flow, orbited at an average altitude of 34 miles (55 kilometers). The average orbital altitude during extended mission will be 14 miles (23 kilometers), which places the GRAIL twins within five miles (eight kilometers) of some of the moon's higher surface features.

"Ebb and Flow, and our mission operations team, are both doing great, which is certainly notable considering all the milestones and challenges they have experienced," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The twins have endured the lunar eclipse of June 4, 2012, and 26 rocket burns since arriving in lunar orbit at the beginning of the year. Down here in our control room, with all the planning and mission operations we have been doing, it feels as though we've been riding right along with them. Of course, they have the better view."

Science data are collected when the Lunar Gravity Ranging System transmit radio signals between the two spacecraft, precisely defining the rate of change of distance between Ebb and Flow. The distance between the twins change slightly as they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity caused by visible features, such as mountains and craters, and by masses hidden beneath the lunar surface.

Mission scientists calculated that even as the last data were downlinked, four of the mission's six principal science measurement goals had already been achieved. The objective of the GRAIL mission is to generate the most accurate gravity map of the moon and from that derive the internal structure and evolution of Earth's natural satellite.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
Beyond
500 Gigaderps
Posts: 6889
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:09 am
Location: BEYONDER LAND

Re: GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

Post by Beyond » Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:16 am

...above the moon's Ocean of Storms,... Am i missing something here? Ocean of storms on the moon??
To find the Truth, you must go Beyond.

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 21579
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: GRAIL: Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory

Post by bystander » Sat Sep 01, 2012 2:29 am

Beyond wrote:...above the moon's Ocean of Storms,... Am i missing something here? Ocean of storms on the moon??
Oceanus Procellarum (Latin for "Ocean of Storms") is a vast lunar mare on the western edge of the near side of Earth's Moon. It is the only one of the lunar maria to be called an "Oceanus" (ocean). This is due to its size; Oceanus Procellarum is the largest of the maria, stretching more than 2,500 km (1,600 mi) across its north-south axis and covering roughly 4,000,000 km2 (1,500,000 sq mi). Nevertheless, it is still smaller than the surface area of the Mediterranean Sea on Earth.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor