Sunday, January 1, 2012

GRAIL-B joins New Years dance with GRAIL-A

GRAIL-B was still 6300 kilometers away and closing fast at 2038UT New Years Day and flight directors at JPL prepared for a burn that would begin a tandem flight with GRAIL-A. At the same moment GRAIL-A was reaching the 87.4 km apogee of a highly elliptical third orbit since its own insertion into lunar orbit 30 hours earlier, on New Years Eve. The high precision lunar gravity mapping mission, following five years of preparation, can be followed using NASA's web-based Eyes on the SOLAR SYSTEM GRAIL AT THE MOON module [NASA/JPL].
GRAIL-B performed a 39 minute lunar orbit insertion burn, Sunday afternoon, beginning at 2205 UT. Following the successful insertion of both GRAIL spacecraft mission principal investigator Dr. Maria Zuber of MIT is expected to announce the winners of a contest to formally name GRAIL A and B, having chosen from 20,000 entries submitter by elementary and middle school students.

Follow the story at SpaceflightNOW.

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