NASA will probe moon

NASA is going to send two probes to the moon, later this summer. They are called “GRAIL” which stands for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory. They will orbit the moon in an effort to determine the structure of its interior. They will be launched by a Delta II rocket some time between early September and mid October, depending on the usual factors.

The plan is to generate a highly accurate gravitatoial map of the moon.

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.

My impression is that if you really compared what we know about the Moon’s origin to what we know about various other cosmic issues, it’s kinda embarrassing. The Moon’s origin is a bit up in the air, as it were.

A unique feature of this mission is that NASA wants the two GRAIL probes to fly in precise formation. This has never been attempted before. Also, the probes will carry a camera that will be operated entirely Middle School students. I’m not sure how many Middle School students they are sending up with the camera.

Details here.

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