NASA Begins 2012 With A New Mission To Map The Moon


Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

While most celebrated the new year with champagne and confetti, the folks at NASA rung in 2012 with a new mission in space exploration. Over the weekend, two of NASA’s Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft successfully entered the Moon’s orbit in the first mission to study and map lunar gravity.

Instruments on GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will measure changes in the moon’s gravitational field, which will help scientists better understand the lunar structure and how rock planets, including Earth, formed. 

It will also help the space agency construct better technologies to explore anywhere on the Moon’s surface in the future, according to NASA.

The twin spacecrafts, which are about the size of a washing machine, began their three-month journey to the moon on Sept. 10 when they were launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida. 

The science phase of the mission will begin in March. 

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