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  • Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Thom Baur, United Launch Alliance
09/14/2011 07:00:00

NASA's GRAIL Mission Shoots for the Moon

After a successful lift off on Saturday, September 10, NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecrafts are headed toward the moon to study its gravity field. The two solar-paneled spacecrafts are expected to reach lunar orbit at the end of the year.

GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will fly in tandem orbits around the moon, working to gather information that will help answer questions about the thermal evolution of the moon, as well as give scientists a better understanding about how rocky planets in our solar system formed. Back on Earth, mission project managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of Caltech, will monitor the spacecrafts as they cover 2.5 million miles of space on their trip to the moon.

"Our GRAIL twins have Earth in their rearview mirrors and the moon in their sights," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager, in a press release issued by JPL. "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."

To read the full press release, click here.

Written by Katie Neith