NASA launches lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory spacecraft to study moon

Click to EnlargePosted by Courtney E. Howard

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., 10 Sept. 2011. NASA officials launched its twin lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., today at 9:08 a.m. EDT to study the moon in detail. GRAIL-A is expected to reach the moon on New Year's Eve 2011, whereas GRAIL-B is scheduled to arrive New Year's Day 2012. The two solar-powered spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon to measure its gravity field, helping to answer longstanding questions about the moon and how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.


The spacecraft launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. GRAIL mission controllers acquired a signal from GRAIL-A at 10:29 a.m., and from GRAIL-B eight minutes later. Telemetry data from both spacecraft indicates their solar panels are deployed and operating as expected.

"Our GRAIL twins have Earth in their rearview mirrors and the moon in their sights," explains David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) 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 distance from Earth to the moon, in a straight line, is roughly 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometers). NASA's Apollo moon crews needed approximately three days to cover that distance; yet, 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.

"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," says Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

JPL manages the GRAIL mission, which is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.


Related Products

Light Curing Systems

Master Bond offers a large family of light curing products that cure upon exposure to a...

Silicones

Master Bond’s silicones are available in both one part and two part versions that offer...

Epoxies

Master Bond offers an extensive range of one and two part epoxies for a variety of appl...

Related Companies

Master Bond

For over 35 years, Master Bond has been supplying aerospace and defense manufacturers with custom...
Wire News provided by   

 

Press Releases

One Component, Snap Cure Epoxy Features High Strength Properties

Suitable for a variety of applications in the electronic, aerospace and OEM industries, Master Bond EP...

One Part Epoxy Resists up to 500°F and Meets NASA Low Outgassing Specifications

Master Bond Supreme 12AOHT-LO is a one component epoxy for a variety of bonding and sealing applicatio...

Low Viscosity, One Part Cyanoacrylate Is Non-Toxic and Meets ISO 10993-5 Specifications

Master Bond MB250NT is widely used for a variety of applications ranging from repair to high speed pro...

Thermally Conductive, Two Component Epoxy Passes USP Class VI Tests and ISO 10993-5 Specifications

With biocompatibility and cytotoxicity certifications, Master Bond EP21AOLV-2Med is often selected for...

CURTISS-WRIGHT CONGRATULATES NORTHROP GRUMMAN ON SUCCESSFUL FIRST FLIGHT OF SECOND MQ-4C TRITON UAS

Curtiss-Wright Corporation’s Defense Solutions division applauds Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: N...

Curtiss-Wright’s New Rugged Mobile IP Router Subsystem Features an Integrated Cisco® 5915 ESR Router

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division, a Cisco® Systems Solut...

VICTORY Shared Processing, Fire Control Computer, and Switch for Ground Vehicles Introduced by Curtiss-Wright

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has introduced a new fu...

GE Announces First Sub-Credit Card-Sized Multi-Function High Definition (HD) Video Tracker

HUNTSVILLE, AL.— OCTOBER 13, 2014—GE’s Intelligent Platforms business today announced at AUSA (Octobe...

Most Popular Articles


All Access Sponsors


Follow Us On...