The twin GRAIL spacecraft are nearly out of fuel, and are being directed to a controlled impact near the north pole on the near side of the Moon on December 17. Before the end, though, they did some cool things, including flying within 2000 meters of mountaintops, and catching video of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in flight.
Join us for our weekly hangout and catch up on GRAIL, Curiosity, and the future Mars rover.
This month, Opportunity is roving again, while Curiosity approaches Mars; Cassini's finally seeing rings, and will fly by Mimas, Titan, and Tethys; GRAIL has completed its primary mission and is journeying toward the second; Dawn is climbing to the HAMO2 orbit; and a rare transit of Venus is coming up on June 5/6.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/08 06:54 CST
Two brief mission updates. First, the good news: NASA announced yesterday that the twin GRAIL spacecraft have begun the science phase of the mission, transmitting precisely timed signals to each other in order to map the Moon's gravity field. The bad news: according to ESA, since the recent solar storm passed Venus, both of Venus Express' star trackers are suddenly unable to detect stars.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/01/25 12:10 CST
Geek craft: GRAIL twins Ebb and Flow in plastic canvas
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/28 05:21 CST
The twin GRAIL spacecraft are nearly at the end of their three-month cruises to the Moon. Currently being discussed is an extended mission for GRAIL that would begin after the June eclipse and last through most of December 2012.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/08 10:57 CDT
GRAIL update: Next launch attempt planned for Saturday
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/08 01:01 CDT
The terrific launch photographer Ben Cooper is at the Cape waiting for GRAIL's Delta 2 rocket to take off, and last night he took this very cool photo.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/12 10:32 CST
Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Unmanned Space Exploration in 2011, about what to look forward to in solar system exploration this year.
Posted by Alan Stern on 2009/05/18 03:56 CDT
Today, I'm kicking the week off with a look at the unusually intense confluence of far flung planetary exploration that's just around the corner, starting the middle of next year.