Although NASA faces controversial budget cuts if Congress doesn’t resolve the “fiscal cliff” financial issue, the space agency intentionally clashed with a different kind of cliff this week.
Two NASA moon probes ended their gravity-mapping mission in spectacular fashion on Mon., December 17 by crashing intentionally into a cliff near the lunar north pole.
The twin Grail spacecraft, known as Ebb and Flow, slammed into the raised rim of a moon crater at 5:28 p.m. EST (2258 GMT) Monday, mission team members said. The probes impacted about 20 seconds apart, with each traveling at 3,760 mph or so.
The $496 million Grail mission — short for Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory — launched in September 2011. Ebb and Flow arrived in lunar orbit about three months later. The two probes have been zipping around the moon ever since, mapping its gravity field in unprecedented detail.
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