[meteorite-list] NASA's Grail Lunar Impact Site Named for Astronaut Sally Ride

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2012 15:16:21 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201212172316.qBHNGLVf027778_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

Dec. 17, 2012

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov

D.C. Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
agle at jpl.nasa.gov

Sarah McDonnell
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
s_mcd at mit.edu

RELEASE: 12-438


PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA has named the site where twin agency
spacecraft impacted the moon Monday in honor of the late astronaut,
Sally K. Ride, who was America's first woman in space and a member of
the probes' mission team.

Last Friday, Ebb and Flow, the two spacecraft comprising NASA's
Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, were
commanded to descend into a lower orbit that would result in an
impact Monday on a mountain near the moon's north pole. The
formation-flying duo hit the lunar surface as planned at 2:28:51 p.m.
PST (5:28:51 p.m. EST) and 2:29:21 p.m. PST (5:29:21 p.m. EST) at a
speed of 3,760 mph (1.7 kilometers per second). The location of the
Sally K. Ride Impact Site is on the southern face of an approximately
1.5 mile- (2.5 -kilometer) tall mountain near a crater named

"Sally was all about getting the job done, whether it be in exploring
space, inspiring the next generation, or helping make the GRAIL
mission the resounding success it is today," said GRAIL principal
investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
in Cambridge. "As we complete our lunar mission, we are proud we can
honor Sally Ride's contributions by naming this corner of the moon
after her."

The impact marked a successful end to the GRAIL mission, which was
NASA's first planetary mission to carry cameras fully dedicated to
education and public outreach. Ride, who died in July after a
17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, led GRAIL's MoonKAM (Moon
Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) Program through her
company, Sally Ride Science, in San Diego.

Along with its primary science instrument, each spacecraft carried a
MoonKAM camera that took more than 115,000 total images of the lunar
surface. Imaging targets were proposed by middle school students from
across the country and the resulting images returned for them to
study. The names of the spacecraft were selected by Ride and the
mission team from student submissions in a nationwide contest.

"Sally Ride worked tirelessly throughout her life to remind all of us,
especially girls, to keep questioning and learning," said Sen.
Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. "Today her passion for making students
part of NASA's science is honored by naming the impact site for her."

Fifty minutes prior to impact, the spacecraft fired their engines
until the propellant was depleted. The maneuver was designed to
determine precisely the amount of fuel remaining in the tanks. This
will help NASA engineers validate computer models to improve
predictions of fuel needs for future missions.

"Ebb fired its engines for 4 minutes, 3 seconds and Flow fired its for
5 minutes, 7 seconds," said GRAIL project manager David Lehman of
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "It was
one final important set of data from a mission that was filled with
great science and engineering data."

The mission team deduced that much of the material aboard each
spacecraft was broken up in the energy released during the impacts.
Most of what remained probably is buried in shallow craters. The
craters' size may be determined when NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance
Orbiter returns images of the area in several weeks.

Launched in September 2011, Ebb and Flow had been orbiting the moon
since Jan. 1, 2012. The probes intentionally were sent into the lunar
surface because they did not have sufficient altitude or fuel to
continue science operations. Their successful prime and extended
science missions generated the highest resolution gravity field map
of any celestial body. The map will provide a better understanding of
how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and

"We will miss our lunar twins, but the scientists tell me it will take
years to analyze all the great data they got, and that is why we came
to the moon in the first place," Lehman said. "So long, Ebb and Flow,
and we thank you."

JPL manages the GRAIL mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate
in Washington. GRAIL 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.

For more information about GRAIL, visit:

Received on Mon 17 Dec 2012 06:16:21 PM PST

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