Lunar Lessons

Engineers and Scientists at NASA JPL in California are again making headlines in the military/aerospace (mil/aero) community.

Aerospace engineers and enthusiasts the world over are talking about NASA’s plan to crash Ebb and Flow, two spacecraft on a moon-mapping mission throughout 2012, into the moon’s surface. Not since the Curiosity rover landed on Mars has the mil/aero industry been so focused on and excited about news from NASA.

Ebb and Flow are part of NASA’s roughly $500 million Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) program to study and map the moon’s structure. Data acquired and provided by the Ebb and Flow space probes are expected to provide a greater understanding of the moon, including the structure of the lunar crust, lithosphere, impact basin sub-surfaces, the deep interior, and even the inner core.

Ebb and Flow have worked in tandem in orbit—two participants performing a well-choreographed lunar dance—throughout all of 2012. A NASA spokesperson describes their unique functionality: “As they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity, caused both by visible features such as mountains and craters and by masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, they will move slightly toward and away from each other. An instrument aboard each spacecraft [measures] the changes in their relative velocity very precisely, and scientists translate this information into a high-resolution map of the Moon’s gravitational field.”

The projected flight path to the probes crash sites into the side of a lunar crater.

Launched in September 2011 and gathering information in orbit since 1 January 2012, Ebb and Flow revealed to NASAs’ GRAIL team that the moon’s crust is both thinner and more fractured than previously believed. As 2012 comes to a close, this geek thinks it is perhaps fitting that Ebb and Flow’s year-long journey comes to an end; and, if they’ve got to go out, then why not with a bang?

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Posted December 17th, 2012, by

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About J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

J. VanDomelen holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and myriad certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTia in varying facets of computer software, hardware, and network design and implementation. He has worked in the electronics industry for more than 12 years in varied fields, including advanced systems design of highly technical military and aerospace computer systems, semiconductor manufacturing, open source software development, hardware design, and rapid prototyping. J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

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Commented on December 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm
By Impact is Imminent « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[...] 17 December 2012 at 5:28 p.m. and 5:29 p.m. Eastern Time, NASA JPL scientists in California will set the twin probes Ebb and Flow on a shallow angle collision course [...]

Commented on July 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm
By Lonely Lunar Landscape « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[...] Forty-four years ago this month history was made 238,900 miles from the Earth’s surface. Saturday, 20 July 2013, marked the anniversary of the first manned spaceflight to the Moon. [...]

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