Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft

Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft

Courtesy of NASA

GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, twin spacecraft launched from one rocket, are taking the long, slow route to the Moon. Normally it takes just 3 days for the trip, but GRAIL will conserve fuel and do a low-energy transfer, which means the trip will take 3.5 months. Once in the Moon’s orbit, the twin spacecraft will measure its gravity field using microwaves. This will provide information about the Moon’s internal structure and composition. It is also hoped that we will learn more about the differences between the near and far sides of the Moon and how the Moon was formed, including information to prove or refute the two-moon theory. NASA wants to interest students in this mission so they are planning activities for students using cameras (MoonKams) that are mounted on the spacecraft.

September 10, 2011

January 1, 2012 (scheduled)

End of Mission
April, 2012 (scheduled)

GRAIL will fly twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the Moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about the Moon and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

No findings yet.