GRAIL moon mission in final preparations for September launch

August 26, 2011 By DC Agle, Dwayne Brown and Caroline McCall
The payload fairing is added to the GRAIL booster. Credit: NASA/KSC

NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission to study the moon is in final launch preparations for a scheduled Sept. 8 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

GRAIL's twin spacecraft are tasked for a nine-month mission to explore Earth's nearest neighbor in unprecedented detail. They will determine the structure of the from crust to core and advance our understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

"Yesterday's final encapsulation of the spacecraft is an important mission milestone," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Our two spacecraft are now sitting comfortably inside the payload fairing which will protect them during ascent. Next time the GRAIL twins will see the light of day, they will be about 95 miles up and accelerating."

The spacecraft twins, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, will fly aboard a Delta II rocket launched from Florida. The twins' circuitous route to will take 3.5 months and cover approximately 2.6 million miles (4.2 million kilometers) for GRAIL-A, and 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) for GRAIL-B.

In lunar orbit, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them. Regional gravitational differences on the moon are expected to expand and contract that distance.

GRAIL scientists will use these to define the moon's . The data will allow mission scientists to understand what goes on below the surface of our natural satellite.

"GRAIL will unlock lunar mysteries and help us understand how the moon, Earth and other evolved as well," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

GRAIL's launch period opens Sept. 8 and extends through Oct. 19. On each day, there are two separate launch opportunities separated by approximately 39 minutes. On Sept. 8, the first launch opportunity is 8:37 a.m. EDT (5:37 a.m. PDT); the second is 9:16 a.m. EDT (6:16 a.m. PDT).

Explore further: GRAIL moon twins are joined to their booster

More information: To view live interviews with lunar scientists from noon to 5 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. PDT) on Sept. 8 and 9, visit: .

Related Stories

GRAIL moon twins are joined to their booster

August 18, 2011

( -- NASA's lunar-bound GRAIL twins were mated to their Delta II launch vehicle at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 17 at 8:45 a.m. EDT (5:45 a.m. PDT) today. The 15-mile (25-kilometer) trip ...

GRAIL launch less than one month away

August 12, 2011

( -- NASA's twin lunar probes – GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B - completed their final inspections and were weighed one final time at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Fla., on Tuesday. The two ...

NASA's twin craft arrive in Florida for moon mission

May 24, 2011

( -- NASA's twin lunar probes have arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for a launch in late summer. The two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory spacecraft (Grail) were shipped from Lockheed Martin ...

GRAIL Spacecraft Takes Shape

July 29, 2010

( -- Engineers have conducted a fuel tank check of one of NASA's GRAIL mission spacecraft, scheduled for launch in 2011.

Recommended for you

Camera on NASA's Lunar Orbiter survived 2014 meteoroid hit

May 26, 2017

On Oct. 13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar ...

SDO sees partial eclipse in space

May 26, 2017

On May 25, 2017, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, saw a partial solar eclipse in space when it caught the moon passing in front of the sun. The lunar transit lasted almost an hour, between 2:24 and 3:17 p.m. EDT, ...

Jupiter's complex transient auroras

May 25, 2017

Combined observations from three spacecraft show that Jupiter's brightest auroral features recorded to date are powered by both the volcanic moon Io and interaction with the solar wind.

Methanol detected for first time around young star

May 25, 2017

Methanol, a key building block for the complex organic compounds that comprise life, has been detected for the first time in the protoplanetary disk of a young, distant star. This finding could help scientists better understand ...

New Neliota project detects flashes from lunar impacts

May 25, 2017

Using a system developed under an ESA contract, the Greek NELIOTA project has begun to detect flashes of light caused by small pieces of rock striking the moon's surface. NELIOTA is the first system that can determine the ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2011
GRAIL will unlock lunar mysteries and help us understand how the moon, Earth and other rocky planets evolved as well," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the MIT in Cambridge.

Congratulations, Maria!

Have you considered using gravity anomaly measurements to look for evidence of a pulsar at the core of the Sun, as we discussed in Santa Flavia (near Palermo) ITALY on 11-15 June 2001 at a conference called "Asteroids 2001: From Piazzi to the Third Millennium"?

Our studies [1-3] suggest that the pulsar-centered Sun has dominant influence on Earth's changing climate.

1. Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate, J Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002)

2. Earths heat source the Sun, E & E 20, 131- 144 (2009)

3. Neutron repulsion, The APEIRON Journal (2011)

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
5 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2011
Pulsar centered Sun? What? A pulsar has better places to be than to hang around in the sun. besides, it has no business there. Its hard to believe that there would be anything in a solid phase anywhere in the sun. Its mass id too low to support the high density of a pulsar. If a pulsar suddenly appeared inside the sun, there would be no life on Earth to witness the event. Pulsars are usually much larger than the sun anyway. As the sun is to the solar system, so a pulsar is to a galaxy. Remember that a pulsar is a very distant radio source. Only a real big feeding monster would put out this amount of energy... a super massive brown dwarf...
1 / 5 (3) Aug 27, 2011
Sounds like Bilderberg dogma [1] about the Sun being a constant heat source, in equiilibrium, that has no impact on Earth's continuously changing climate.

Great dogma, . . . Henry Kissinger and Chairman Mao even adopted it, and it works, . . .

if faith blinds one to observations [2-4].

1. The Bilderberg solar model, Solar Physics 3, 5-25 (1968): http://adsabs.har....3....5G

2. Global eruption rocks the Sun, (December 13, 2010)

3. Vast solar eruption rocks NASA and raises doubts on sun theory, Astronomy & Space, Suite 101 (January 3, 2011):


4. Neutron repulsion, The APEIRON Journal, preprint, in press, 19 pages (2011)

5 / 5 (2) Aug 28, 2011
Pulsars are usually much larger than the sun anyway. As the sun is to the solar system, so a pulsar is to a galaxy. Remember that a pulsar is a very distant radio source.

sorry for my english
It seems that you confused quasar with pulsar, as pulsar is high-spinning neutron star, and quasar is the active galactic core (feeding million solar mass black hole). Anyway there is no way for neutron star to reside in the Sun, it must be twice as Sun's mass.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.