Space fanatics and NASA obsessives: Clear your afternoon calendar.
At approximately 2:28 p.m. Monday, NASA will send its twin spacecrafts Ebb and Flow hurtling into the moon at 3,760 mph -- and the space agency will have a live play-by-play of the event, hosted by scientists in the control room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
The live feed begins at 2 and ends around 2:30. Unfortunately, you will not be able to see the two crashes because the lunar crater that will be their final resting places will be in shadow at the time.
NASA scientists admit to feeling sad about the deliberate destruction of these two spacecraft. They were launched from Earth in September of 2011 to help scientists learn more about the lunar gravity field. Ebb and Flow completed their primary three-month mission, then went on to complete an extended mission as well.
But now they are in low orbit and running out of fuel. Since they can no longer make scientific measurements, it is time to say goodbye.
A bit more about Ebb and Flow:
They are part of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission, better known as GRAIL.
Each is about the size of a washer-dryer you might find in an apartment. They worked in tandem to measure the lunar gravity field.
Thanks to their efforts, scientists have learned that the moon’s crust is far thinner than they had originally thought. Additional findings should be released in the spring.
Ebb will go down first. Flow will follow about 20 seconds later, and land roughly 25 miles away.
NASA’s live commentary will include interviews with GRAIL team members. You can tune in below.
Return to the Science Now blog.