Tag Archives: Grail

NASA has named the impact site where the two GRAIL spacecraft hit the Moon today after American astronaut Sally Ride.

NASA has named the impact site where the two GRAIL spacecraft hit the Moon today after American astronaut Sally Ride.

Though this is a nice gesture, the entire public relations campaign surrounding the GRAIL impact today has been one of the more overhyped exercises at NASA. The impact is going to provide very little new science, and is necessary because no lunar orbit is stable and the spacecraft will eventually crash into the Moon anyway. Better to do it under controlled circumstances. To make such a big deal about it however is hardly interesting, especially since this has been done repeatedly by practically every lunar orbiter.

The first results from the two GRAIL space probes have revealed the Moon has a much thinner crust than previously believed.

The uncertainty of science: The first results from the two GRAIL space probes have revealed that the Moon has a much thinner crust than previously believed.

These preliminary results have also found that the Moon’s surface topography closely matched the variations in the gravitational field, and that there appears no evidence in the gravitational field of the giant ancient impact basins that scientists have for decades assumed were there, based on surface evidence. This last result is especially surprising, and will force an almost complete rewrite of the Moon’s geological history.

Interestingly, these results are only peripherally related to GRAIL’s main research goal, which was to map the Moon’s deep structure and core. I suspect there are even more surprises coming when this data gets released.