Students rename NASA moon probes Ebb and Flow

January 17, 2012
This NASA photograph aquired on January 4 and taken from Houston, Texas, juxtaposes Earth’s oldest satellite with one of its youngest. A pair of unmanned NASA spacecraft that are orbiting the Moon were renamed Ebb and Flow by a middle school class in Montana, the US space agency announced.

A pair of unmanned NASA spacecraft that are orbiting the Moon were renamed Ebb and Flow on Tuesday by a middle school class in Montana, the US space agency announced.

The original names for the twin probes Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) -- A and B -- were not very inspired, admitted principal investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"We were so busy in the design and getting these two spacecraft launched on time that when we gave them names, we gave them names of A and B, and that isn't too creative. So we asked the youth of America to assist us," she said.

More than 11,000 students took part in the contest to rename the twin craft which aim to map the Moon's surface, determine its and reveal the contents of its inner core.

The winners were a fourth grade classroom of nine- and 10-year-olds at Emily Dickinson School in Bozeman, Montana.

"They noted the fact that GRAIL is going to be studying gravity on the Moon, and that the effect of gravity on the Earth is seen every day in terms of tides," said Zuber.

"So they chose Ebb and Flow because it was the daily example of how the Moon's gravity is working on the Earth," she added, describing the idea as "very simple" but also "sophisticated."

Other such contests have been held in the past to name , such as the Mars rover Curiosity, coined in 2009 by a 12-year-old essay winner in Kansas named Clara Ma.

The two GRAIL spacecraft, a $500-million pair of washing machine-sized satellites, launched in September and reached at the turn of the New Year. Their work mapping the Moon is set to begin in March.

Explore further: GRAIL moon mission in final preparations for September launch

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4 comments

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Xbw
1.3 / 5 (13) Jan 17, 2012
Did anyone else think that little dot in the picture to the top left of the moon was actually a spot on their screen?
panorama
not rated yet Jan 17, 2012
Did anyone else think that little dot in the picture to the top left of the moon was actually a spot on their screen?

Until I scrolled I tried wiping it off my screen.

On the article though I really like the new names for these. Sounds better than GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B.
yyz
5 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2012
"Did anyone else think that little dot in the picture to the top left of the moon was actually a spot on their screen?"

It's the International Space Station, making a pass near the Moon, like here: http://lightsinth...ar-pass/

Like the new names, too.
Xbw
1.6 / 5 (13) Jan 17, 2012
"Did anyone else think that little dot in the picture to the top left of the moon was actually a spot on their screen?"

It's the International Space Station, making a pass near the Moon, like here: http://lightsinth...ar-pass/

Like the new names, too.

Wow nice find man! I tried to wipe the ISS off my screen. I'm a monster.

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