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GRAIL Impacts the Moon

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission comprises a pair of satellites launched in September, 2011 and placed in orbit around the Moon in January, 2012. The two satellites, named Ebb and Flow, used radio signals to precisely measure their separation as they flew in formation, one following the other in the same nearly circular polar orbit. These measurements allowed mission scientists to build up an accurate and detailed gravity map of the Moon.

GRAIL ends its successful mission by impacting the Moon on December 17, 2012 at approximately 5:27 p.m. EST (22:27 UT). The two spacecraft were placed in an orbit that takes them within a kilometer of the surface, so low that they will hit the side of an unnamed mountain that lies between Mouchez and Philolaus craters, near the north pole at 75°45'N, 26°11'W. Ebb strikes first, followed 24 seconds later by Flow.

This animation shows the last three orbits of the two spacecraft, with views of the impact site. The impact occurs on the night side of a waxing crescent Moon, so the view shifts from a natural color Moon to a false-color elevation map.
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Another multimedia item related to this story:
     GRAIL Primary Mission Gravity Maps (AGU 2012) (id 4014)

GRAIL's final three orbits, with close-ups of the impact site.    GRAIL's final three orbits, with close-ups of the impact site.
Duration: 1.1 minutes
Available formats:
  1920x1080 MPEG-4   12 MB
  1920x1080 QT         26 MB
  1280x720   MPEG-4   6 MB
  1280x720   QT         15 MB
  640x360     MPEG-4   2 MB
  640x360     QT         5 MB
  1920x1080 Frames
  1920x1080 JPEG         275 KB
  320x180     PNG           55 KB
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One of GRAIL's last orbits across the night side of a waxing crescent Moon.    One of GRAIL's last orbits across the night side of a waxing crescent Moon.

Available formats:
  2400 x 2400     TIFF       3 MB


On their penultimate orbit, Ebb and Flow just miss the mountain they will hit on their next pass.    On their penultimate orbit, Ebb and Flow just miss the mountain they will hit on their next pass.

Available formats:
  2400 x 2400     TIFF       2 MB


A more distant view of the impact site, just seconds before the impact of Ebb.    A more distant view of the impact site, just seconds before the impact of Ebb.

Available formats:
  2400 x 2400     TIFF       6 MB

Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?4023
Animation Number:4023
Completed:2012-12-13
Animator:Ernie Wright (USRA) (Lead)
Scientists:Maria Zuber (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
 Erwan M. Mazarico (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Platform/Sensor/Data Set:LRO/LOLA/Digital Elevation Map
Series:The Moon
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
 
Keywords:
SVS >> Gravity
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Lunar
SVS >> Moon
SVS >> GRAIL
SVS >> Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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