Friday Headlines – 12-21-12

Friday Headlines, December 21, 2012

THE LATEST IN THE GEOSCIENCES

 

GRAIL MOON MISSION ENDS WITH A BANG

In September of 2011, NASA sent two small spacecraft into the orbit of the Moon. Nicknamed Ebb and Flow, these two tiny craft shared the same orbit, and remained in continuous contact with each other. The mission was called GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory), and the purpose was to measure minute fluctuations of the Moon’s gravitational field by precisely measuring changes in the relative velocities of the two spacecraft.

The two GRAIL satellites, Ebb and Flow. This is an artist’s depiction.

Bulk Density of the Lunar Highlands – courtesy of GRAIL

The mission ended on Monday, December 17, 2012, when Ebb and Flow were purposely sent to impact the Moon near its north pole. The craft were no longer at a sufficient altitude to continue scientific study and had not fuel remaining to gain the needed altitude. The impact site was named after the late astronaut Sally K. Ride, who was America’s first woman in space.

I think Sarcastic Rover said it all when the impacts were confirmed and the mission was officially over:

 

Speaking of things flying through space (and somehow appropriate given the recent reviews I’ve written about asteroid impact movies):

HUGE ASTEROID’S EARTH FLYBY CAUGHT ON VIDEO

The asteroid is called 4179 Toutatis, and was ‘videoed’ when it passed by Earth on December 12 and 13 at a distance of about 4.3 million miles (or 18 times farther than the Moon).

 

An image of Toutatis

The images were generated using radar images from NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, CA.

The final headline for 12-21-12:

THE WORLD IS NOT GOING TO END TODAY.

It’s already tomorrow in some places. I don’t think we need to worry.

Or maybe we should:

 

2 thoughts on “Friday Headlines – 12-21-12

  1. NASA doesn’t give all their robots such a spectacular retirement:
    http://xkcd.com/695/

    I’ve seen several articles reporting that the impact site was named for Dr. Ride, but none of them actually state what the name is. Have you seen it?

  2. You know, I haven’t actually seen how the name is used, like Ride Mountain or Ride Impact Site. Nothing. Just that it’s named after her. I’ve also wondered, since there were two orbiters that crashed several miles apart, if they’ll be Ride A and Ride B or something. I dunno. Perhaps I’ll perform a little Twitter-fu (like Google-fu, but asking my Twitter followers so I don’t have to think).

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