Feeds

NASA to smash its spacecraft INTO THE MOON

GRAIL probes scheduled for mission-ending crash 'em up

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Vid NASA's twin lunar-orbiting GRAIL spacecraft are preparing to smash into the surface of the Moon as a final send-off.

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) ships, Ebb and Flow, will be intentionally crash-landed on the Moon now that their low orbit and fuel levels have ended their mission abilities.

The crash and burn, scheduled for 22.28 GMT on Monday, will hit a mountain located near the Goldschmidt crater, finishing a mission that start on 1 January this year.

"It is going to be difficult to say goodbye," said GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber of MIT. "Our little robotic twins have been exemplary members of the GRAIL family, and planetary science has advanced in a major way because of their contributions."

The two craft have generated the highest-resolution gravity field map of any celestial body, which will help boffins understand more about how Earth and other rocky planets in the Solar System formed and evolved.

Just before they impact on the Moon, Ebb and Flow will do one final experiment, firing their main engines until their propellant tanks are empty to show NASA scientists exactly how much fuel they have left. This will help engineers to improve predictions about how much fuel missions need.

"Our lunar twins may be in the twilight of their operational lives, but one thing is for sure, they are going down swinging," said GRAIL project manager David Lehman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. "Even during the last half of their last orbit, we are going to do an engineering experiment that could help future missions operate more efficiently."

Both spacecraft will hit the surface at 3,760mph, with Ebb going down first, followed 20 seconds later by Flow. NASA won't be able to get images of the crash because the mountain will be in shadow at the time of impact.

"Such a unique end-of-mission scenario requires extensive and detailed mission planning and navigation," said Lehman.

"We've had our share of challenges during this mission and always come through in flying colours, but nobody I know around here has ever flown into a moon mountain before. It'll be a first for us, that's for sure." ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.