In the 60’s the Apollo moon missions and the Saturn V rocket were very much the face of NASA. In the 80’s and 90’s, the Shuttle program and the ISS took this honour. So what will be the symbol of space exploration in the early 21st century?.. Kamikaze Satellites and deliberate high speed collisions with heavenly bodies. Yup, NASA has really taken a shine to smashing things lately. The most recent example of this being the GRAIL moon mission which ended on Monday when the twin probes Ebb and Flow smashed in to the surface.
Both landed in the dark, but scientists hope that the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will be able to fly over the spot in the coming days and weeks and snap images of the landing site. Examining the impact craters with its suite of instruments could help scientists learn something about the rock just beneath the moon’s surface.
Ebb and Flow were not just sent to the moon to smash into it though. They were launched in September 2011 to study every bump and pothole in the moon’s gravitational field. Having exceeded what was expected of the little washing-machine sized explorers were able get within a mile and a half of some lunar landmarks.
The unprecedented up-close survey revealed a host of findings. The researchers found that the moon’s crust is even thinner than originally thought, and that there are deep fractures in the crust, showing that it may have taken a greater beating from asteroids and comets than planetary scientists had believed. Those results were reported this month in the journal Science
For more check out this article here.