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The Mission




Rocket: Delta 2 (7920-H)
Payload: GRAIL
Date: Sept. 10, 2011
Times: 8:29:45 a.m. and 9:08:52 a.m. EDT
Site: SLC-17B, Cape Canaveral, Florida

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Naming contest adds to Moon mission's outreach to kids
BY JUSTIN RAY
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: October 3, 2011


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NASA is calling upon schoolchildren around the U.S. to help name the twin Moon-bound GRAIL spacecraft that will unravel mysteries of the lunar interior.

"A NASA mission to the Moon is one of the reasons why I am a scientist today," said GRAIL Principal Investigator Maria Zuber from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "My hope is that GRAIL motivates young people today towards careers in science, math and technology. Getting involved with naming our two GRAIL spacecraft could inspire their interest not only in space exploration but in the sciences, and that's a good thing."


An artist's concept of the GRAIL twins at the Moon. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 
Blasting off last month from Cape Canaveral with the dull-sounding names GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, the two satellites are following circuitous routes from Earth to the Moon for separate arrivals on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. They will slip into lunar orbits, then start their tandem science mission in March.

The mirror-image craft will bounce radio signals off each other to measure subtle changes in the distance between the two formation-flying satellites caused by the lunar gravity field, enabling scientists to deduce the Moon's origins and the composition of its interior structure.

NASA says the naming contest is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade at schools in the United States and must be submitted by teachers using an online entry form. Length of submissions can range from a short paragraph to a 500-word essay.

The entry deadline is Nov. 11.

Contest rules and more information can be found at: http://grail.nasa.gov/contest.

Both satellites also carry cameras for the educational MoonKAM program led by Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Students get to select areas of the Moon they want the cameras to capture.

"GRAIL is the first mission to fly an imaging system that does not have a scientific objective. MoonKAM is devoted entirely to education and outreach. The investigation is led by Sally Ride, who now dedicates her life to working with middle school students, particularly young women, but all students to raise their awareness and understanding on science, math and technology," said Zuber.

The equipment is like the rocket-mounted video cameras used to watch boosters and stages separate during launches. Now, they are part of the GRAIL spacecraft to provide an inexpensive way to image the Moon and spark the imagination in children.

"Middle school students will be able to log on, and if their school is registered in the program, the software is available to see where the GRAIL ground tracks will be passing over and students can target images of something they'd like to take a picture of and input that into the system. Then there is a mission operations center that Sally runs at the University of California-San Diego where college students run this," said Zuber.

"We takes as many of these images as our operations allow. But this is done in a completely non-interference basis with the gravity mission. In the gravity mission, the two spacecraft are just ranging to each other constantly, we don't move the spacecraft around. We just want to put them into orbit, let them fly and watch how they get perturbed by the Moon."

More information is available at the MoonKAM website.

From launch until the mission's ending, the GRAIL-A spacecraft is expected to travel 13.2 million miles and GRAIL-B some 12.8 million miles.

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: THE FULL LAUNCH EXPERIENCE PLAY
VIDEO: ONBOARD ROCKET CAMERA: GRAIL-A DEPLOYED PLAY
VIDEO: ONBOARD ROCKET CAMERA: GRAIL-B DEPLOYED PLAY
VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY

VIDEO: GRAIL LAUNCH AS SEEN LIVE! PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD 17A CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD 17B CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: BACKSIDE CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: NORTHSIDE CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: JETTY PARK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PATRICK AFB PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PRESS SITE 1 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: KSC TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: TRIDENT BLUFF PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS 23 TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: AERIAL VIEWS OF HISTORIC COMPLEX 17 PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: FIRST LAUNCH ATTEMPT IS SCRUBBED PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MOBILE SERVICE GANTRY ROLLED BACK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF TOWER RETRACTION PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: GRAIL'S PRE-LAUNCH CAMPAIGN PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ROCKET'S PRE-LAUNCH CAMPAIGN PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GRAIL PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR INTERVIEW PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF DELTA 2-HEAVY ROCKET'S ASCENT PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: LEARN ABOUT GRAIL'S SCIENCE GOALS PLAY
VIDEO: THE PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT MISSION INTRODUCTION BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: GRAIL'S ROADMAP TO THE MOON PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DELTA/GRAIL LAUNCH ANIMATION PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GRAIL LUNAR MAPPING ANIMATION PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: HOW GRAVITY MEASUREMENTS ARE MADE PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: DELTA ROCKET'S NOSE CONE INSTALLED PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GRAIL MOVES TO ROCKET'S LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SECOND SATELLITE PUT ON LAUNCH DEPLOYER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: FIRST SATELLITE PUT ON LAUNCH DISPENSER PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: SOLAR ARRAYS UNFURLED FOR CHECK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SATELLITES READY TO START TESTING PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: UNBOXING THE SPACECRAFT AT ASTROTECH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SATELLITES UNLOADED FROM TRANSPORT PLANE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GRAIL SPACECRAFT TOUCH DOWN IN FLORIDA PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: ROCKET'S SECOND STAGE INSTALLED PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SECOND STAGE CARTED TO COMPLEX 17 PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS ATTACHED PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: READYING THE FIRST SET OF BOOSTERS PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: ON-PAD ASSEMBLY OF ROCKET UNDERWAY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GANTRY HOISTS FIRST STAGE VERTICALLY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: FIRST STAGE ARRIVES AT THE PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
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