Crash Course

What does a longtime space agency do with lunar research satellites when they have run out of fuel? If you’re the space geeks at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, California, you do something unforgettable: You crash them into moon!

Ebb and Flow are appliance-sized probes (or spacecraft) in NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) program. The GRAIL lunar science mission, part of NASA’s Discovery Program, employs high-tech tools with which to produce a high-quality gravitational field map of the Moon, to help better determine its interior structure.

The GRAIL mission placed two spacecraft–Grail A and B, which are more commonly known as Ebb and Flow–into the same orbit around the Moon.

Ebb and Flow launched on 10 September 2011 onboard a Delta II rocket—specifically, the 7920H-10 from United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Centennial, Colo. ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company.

Ebb and Flow being encased in the Delta II clamshell-shaped fairing that falls away once it leaves Earth's atmosphere

Ebb separated from the Delta II rocket roughly nine minutes after launch, and Flow followed suit approximately 16 minutes after launch. Ebb entered orbit on 31 December 2011; Flow entered orbit a day later on New Year’s Day, 1 January 2012. Since that time, they have been performing as expected and on-board electronics have been recording and delivering data to awaiting NASA engineers and scientists.

Ebb and Flow have enjoyed a year-long stint in orbit, but that is about to end with a bang. This geek cannot think of anything more positive or exciting to focus on this week, and is excited for the explosive event.

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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 2:36 pm
By Lunar Lessons « J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

[…] and Scientists at NASA JPL in California are again making headlines in the military/aerospace (mil/aero) […]

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