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Now browsing: Hometown News > Opinion > Brevard County

Holy Grail, Batman; they've crashed into Sally
Rating: 3.08 / 5 (24 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Jan 04 - 06:31

'Ebb' and 'Flow's' first, last and only mission

One of the benefits of this job at Hometown News is that my email address, brevnews@hometownnewsol.com, gets a lot of communication and information from NASA.

One of the latest interesting emails was about the lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission probes being crashed into the moon, after being in use for less than a year.

The GRAIL mission probes had been named "Ebb" and "Flow" in a NASA contest by elementary school children in Bozeman, Mont.

The probes' mission was to send home some great maps of the moon (and probably look to see if any other nation, corporation or wealthy individuals had already built structures there, like on the dark side of the moon).

I thought there were a couple of strange things about this entire story, but it had one nice touch at the ending. (My son writes, directs and edits independent films, and I am learning to be a positive critic).

As Voyager I and II continue their missions way out into space, "farther than anyone has ever gone before," (and will probably become the story idea for a future Captain Kirk and Spock movie when they return); "Ebb" and "Flow" only had a lifespan of one year before they "bit the dust up north" on the moon.

Although the NASA emails I get are mostly informative, very dry and lacking of any life force at all (as is the NASA television channel), I felt emotionally moved by the words in the NASA emails about GRAIL and its destiny. Someone had put some life into the washing machine-sized probes, as if they were a second "R2D2" and "C3PO" from "Star Wars."

I wanted to know more about "Ebb" and "Flow" and their short-lived mission. Why did they have to die so young? Couldn't they have used them to check out a passing chunk of meteorite or asteroid after their moon mission? Those probes must have had some cheap batteries, made in countries where workers and their families survive on less food than we give our pets every day.

"It's going to be difficult to say goodbye (to the probes)," GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, in the press release. "Our little robotic twins have been exemplary members of the GRAIL family, and planetary science has advanced in a major way because of their contributions."

Just before Christmas here on Earth, "Ebb" and "Flow" crashed onto the surface of the moon near a crater named Goldschmidt.

Hey, that's not named after the guy who does the Dos Equis commercials, is it? You know, "The Most Interesting Man in the World?")

The cool part is that NASA named the crash site of the probes the "Sally K. Ride Impact Site."

"Sally was all about getting the job done," Ms. Zuber said, in the press release, "whether it be in exploring space, inspiring the next generation or helping make the GRAIL mission the resounding success it is today."

As for me, I am glad they named a corner of the moon for her. Put a guitar in my hand, and all I'll say is "Ride, Sally, Ride."

Michael Hibbard

Brevard News Clerk

Hometown News




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