Saturday, May 21, 2011

Testing the GRAIL Twins

April 29, 2011: Technicians install lifting brackets prior to hoisting the 200-kilogram (440-pound) GRAIL-A spacecraft out of vacuum chamber after testing. Along with its twin GRAIL-B, the GRAIL-A spacecraft underwent an 11-day-long test at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver that simulated many of the flight activities they will perform during the mission, all while being exposed to the vacuum and extreme hot and cold that simulate space.

The Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission will create the most accurate gravitational map of the Moon to date, improving our knowledge of near-side gravity by 100 times and of far-side gravity by 1000 times.

Scheduled for launch later this year, GRAIL is a mission in NASA's Discovery Program, and will begin its work at the Moon in 2012 [NASA/JPL].

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