(Image source: NASA)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN

After a job well done, two NASA spacecraft will be laid to rest in the most dignified way possible — slamming into the Moon at 3700 miles per hour.

The spacecraft, named Ebb and Flow, are part of NASA’s GRAIL project, a mission to map the Moon’s gravity in detail. They’re each about the size of a washing machine, and they’ve been circling the moon gathering data for nearly all of 2012. (Images via NASA)

Earlier this month, NASA released the final product — this gravity map, which showed scientists the results of the Moon being repeatedly pummeled by asteroids early in the solar system’s history. 

But now that the job is done, there’s nothing left but to ensure that Ebb and Flow don’t disturb any historic landing sites when they eventually crash on the planet. So NASA is giving them a little push.

Their remaining fuel will be burnt off in one last thrust, aiming them toward a ridge where the two spacecraft will land about 25 miles apart — far away from any space race relics. (Video via NASA)

“I wouldn’t say we’re bombing the Moon,” one scientist told Talking Points Memo. “They’re not bombs, they’re satellites. Satellites are deorbited from the Earth frequently in controlled deorbits... We’re taking similar steps.”

The probes’ science instruments will be turned off long before their death dive, but Space.com writes there are still a few more scientific insights to be gained.

“The violent demise of Ebb and Flow [could possibly] expel water ice or other volatiles into the wispy lunar atmosphere, where they can be detected by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.”

Among Ebb and Flow’s discoveries: that the Moon’s crust is thinner than scientists predicted, that the crust is also heavily fractured, and also, that long straight lava-filled tunnels crisscross the Moon’s mantle.

NASA Mission Ends by Crashing Probes into the Moon

by Steven Sparkman
0
Transcript
Dec 13, 2012

NASA Mission Ends by Crashing Probes into the Moon

 

(Image source: NASA)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN

After a job well done, two NASA spacecraft will be laid to rest in the most dignified way possible — slamming into the Moon at 3700 miles per hour.

The spacecraft, named Ebb and Flow, are part of NASA’s GRAIL project, a mission to map the Moon’s gravity in detail. They’re each about the size of a washing machine, and they’ve been circling the moon gathering data for nearly all of 2012. (Images via NASA)

Earlier this month, NASA released the final product — this gravity map, which showed scientists the results of the Moon being repeatedly pummeled by asteroids early in the solar system’s history. 

But now that the job is done, there’s nothing left but to ensure that Ebb and Flow don’t disturb any historic landing sites when they eventually crash on the planet. So NASA is giving them a little push.

Their remaining fuel will be burnt off in one last thrust, aiming them toward a ridge where the two spacecraft will land about 25 miles apart — far away from any space race relics. (Video via NASA)

“I wouldn’t say we’re bombing the Moon,” one scientist told Talking Points Memo. “They’re not bombs, they’re satellites. Satellites are deorbited from the Earth frequently in controlled deorbits... We’re taking similar steps.”

The probes’ science instruments will be turned off long before their death dive, but Space.com writes there are still a few more scientific insights to be gained.

“The violent demise of Ebb and Flow [could possibly] expel water ice or other volatiles into the wispy lunar atmosphere, where they can be detected by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.”

Among Ebb and Flow’s discoveries: that the Moon’s crust is thinner than scientists predicted, that the crust is also heavily fractured, and also, that long straight lava-filled tunnels crisscross the Moon’s mantle.

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