Where did the Man in the Moon come from? It sounds like a nursery school riddle, but it’s actually a very serious question about the history of our satellite. A major part of the "Man" is the lunar mare or sea called the Oceanus Procellarum or Ocean of Storms; the origin of which has been a matter of scientific speculation for centuries. Now NASA claims that the answer has been found by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)
orbiter mission, which ended with a controlled impact on the Moon in 2012.
Sometimes great mysteries hang right over our heads. We’re so used to looking up and seeing the “Man in the Moon” that we often don’t realize that those familiar dark areas on the face of our nearest neighbor are part of a centuries old question that has yet to be answered. Many hypotheses have been put forward and now data from NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL
) lunar orbiters has provided new insights into how the surface of the Moon formed and how its distinctive “seas” came to be.
NASA has released images and findings from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which witnessed the impact of NASA's twin GRAIL
(Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) spacecraft as they struck the Moon near the North Pole in a controlled impact
on Dec.17, 2012. The unmanned orbiter sent back before and after images of the impact sites and used its Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) instrument to study the plume of dust and gas thrown up by the double impact, producing new insights into the processes going on in the interior of the Moon.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a video transmitted by the GRAIL lunar orbiters during their final days. The dramatic footage was taken on December 14, 2012 as part of a final systems check before the twin spacecraft shut down their instruments in preparation for a controlled impact
into a lunar mountain.
NASA’s two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft have struck the Moon in a controlled impact. At 5:28:46 EST (222846 GMT) Ebb, the first spacecraft, struck a mountain near the lunar North Pole. The second, Flow, hit about 20 seconds later. Because the impact occurred during a new moon, no images were available of the impact, though NASA was able to determine the time of the event by monitoring the moment that telemetry ended. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California provided live television and online commentary.
At a press conference today, NASA confirmed that its two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)
Spacecraft will crash into a lunar mountain next week. The controlled impact will occur on Monday, December 17 at approximately 5:28 p.m. EST (22:28 GMT). The impact area is at latitude 75.62° N, longitude 26.63° E near the lunar North Pole in the vicinity of Goldschmidt crater.
Data from NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)
probes has been used to create the highest resolution gravity map yet of any body in the Solar System. The two washing machine-sized spacecraft acted as a 225-kilometer (140 mi) long gravity detector for studying the interior composition of the Moon.