NASA Launches Twin Moon Orbiters
September 12, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Sept. 10 (UPI) — A rocket carrying twin satellites that will orbit around the moon launched Saturday morning in Florida.
The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory or GRAIL spacecraft will study the lunar gravity field, scientists with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said. The solar-powered satellites are scheduled to reach lunar orbit in less than four months, GRAIL-A on New Year’s Eve and GRAIL-B on New Year’s Day.
“Our GRAIL twins have Earth in their rearview mirrors and the moon in their sights,” said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “The mission team is ready to test, analyze and fine-tune our spacecraft over the next three-and-a-half months on our journey to lunar orbit.”
Data collected by the GRAIL spacecraft is expected to give scientists information on how the moon, Earth and other rocky planets formed.