NASA firing two spacecraft into the moon

Two space probes that have been collecting data from orbit around the moon will see their mission come to an end — by crashing into the surface.

An artist's impression of Ebb and Flow in orbit around the moon.
(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT)

Two space probes that have been collecting data from orbit around the moon will see their mission come to an end — by crashing into the surface.

The twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) probes that were launched in September 2011 will finally see their data-collecting mission come to an end at 2pm PST on Monday, 17 December (8am AEDST on Tuesday, 18 December).

Ebb and Flow have been orbiting the moon, analysing the satellite and sending data back to Earth for scientists to study. Its most recent accomplishment is the most accurate gravity map that we have of the moon to date.

Alas, the time has come for their mission to end; the two probes do not have enough altitude or fuel to continue their mission — never mind return to Earth — so NASA is sending them to an appropriately spectacular end by crashing them into the moon's surface.

The two probes are scheduled to land near the lunar north pole at around 2.28pm PST (8.28am AEDST), with live commentary to be provided by NASA.

Watch an animated projection of the crash in the video below, and tune in to NASA's live TV channel to catch the real thing.

Via www.nasa.gov

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