634061main pia13966 43 946 710 NASA crashes probes on the Moon

NASA has crashed two probes into a mountain on the Moon in a controlled mission that ends their year-long attempts to map Earth's sattelite.

NASA has crashed two probes into a mountain on the Moon in a controlled mission that ends their year-long attempts to map Earth's sattelite.

 
The probes, dubbed Ebb and Flow, were part of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, taking measurements as they orbited the Moon and giving scientists at the space agency enough data to construct detailed gravity maps, thanks to the probes speeding up or slowing down when gravity changed from region to region. They made their last map of the Moon's most recent crater on 6 December.
 
The spacecraft also helped with the discovery that the Moon's crust is thinner than previously thought, and that impacts cause significant unseen damage beneath the surface. The discoveries are expected to help with understanding not only how the Moon formed, but will give more insight into Earth and other planets too.
 
634061main pia13966 43 946 710 NASA crashes probes on the Moon
An artist's depiction of the twin spacecraft (Ebb and Flow) that comprise NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission.
 
Despite the success of the mission, the probes were running out of fuel and presented a threat to the spacecraft and relics left on the Moon in the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.
 
“We do feel the angst about the end of the mission,” said Charles Elachi, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA, which orchestrated the mission. “On the other hand, it is a celebration because this mission has accomplished tremendous science.”
 
The resting place of of the probes has been named after the first US woman in space, Sally Ride, who helped with GRAIL's outreach programme before her passing in July of this year.
 
Source: Reuters
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT