Bad Astronomy

GRAIL on its way to the Moon!

This morning at 13:08:53 UT (09:08:53 Eastern US time) NASA successfully launched GRAIL, its latest mission to the Moon! This was the third launch attempt, after high winds scrubbed the first try, and the second was postponed to check out some system issues.

GRAIL is actually two spacecraft which will fly in tandem around the Moon, mapping its gravitational field and using that to probe its interior. A camera on board the rocket got footage of the spacecraft separating:

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Nifty. As usual, Emily has some more info, and you should subscribe to her blog for updates. Heck, you should be reading it anyway.

My congratulations to NASA and the entire planetary scientist community!