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GRAIL lunar orbiters to explore moon's innermost mysteries

The Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission is designed to determine the lunar interior's structure, from crust to core.
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Written by Tuan Nguyen, Contributor on

Although NASA has decided to shutter its shuttle program, the agency has remained bullish about other forms of space exploration -- as long as it stays financially feasible of course.

On Friday, Lockheed Martin delivered NASA's twin GRAIL spacecraft to Kennedy Space Center where they will undergo four months of testing before a scheduled September launch from Cape Canaveral's Air Force Station.

The Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission is designed to determine the lunar interior's structure, from crust to core. Once launched, the spacecraft will orbit 30 miles above the surface of the moon in a precise tandem formation for about a period of nine months. During this time, the twin orbiters will measure the moon's gravity field in unprecedented detail and collect data that can help scientists better understand the moon's thermal evolution and other unanswered questions such as how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

"It has taken a great deal of dedication and hard work from the entire team to bring us to this moment," said John Henk, GRAIL program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. "Building two spacecraft simultaneously brought some challenges, but I'm proud that we are delivering them to the launch site on schedule and under budget."

(via PR Newswire)

Image: NASA

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