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Default GRAIL mission news and updates
by IronRain 08-22-2011, 10:52 AM

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission was competitively selected through the Discovery Program. GRAIL will launch on a Delta II launch vehicle and use high-quality gravity field mapping of the moon to determine the moon's interior structure.

GRAIL’s primary science objectives will be to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the Moon. As a secondary objective, GRAIL will extend knowledge gained from the Moon to the other terrestrial planets.

Science investigations will include:
• Map the structure of the crust and lithosphere
• Understand the Moon’s asymmetric thermal evolution
• Determine the subsurface structure of impact basins and the origin of mascons
• Ascertain the temporal evolution of crustal brecciation and magmatism
• Constrain deep interior structure from tides
• Place limits on the size of a possible solid inner core

GRAIL's launch period opens Sept. 8, 2011, and extends through Oct. 19. For a Sept. 8 liftoff, the launch window opens at 5:37 a.m. PDT (8:37 a.m. EDT, 12:37 UTC) and remains open through 6:16 a.m. PDT (9:16 a.m. EDT, 13:16 UTC).

Here you can find the mission on the calendar and request a reminder for it (thanks Orb).








Last edited by orb; 08-22-2011 at 11:41 AM. Reason: Updated link to calendar event
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Old 08-22-2011, 11:41 AM   #2
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First post edited to update the link to calendar event (in a case of launch date change).


NASA:
Lockheed Martin: GRAIL Fact Sheet - Lockheed Brochure (PDF)


United Launch Alliance: Delta II 7920H-10 (356) GRAIL mission launch page


Spaceflight Now:
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:00 PM   #3
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Florida Today - The Flame Trench: Irene advances GRAIL launch preps:
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NASA plans to shield two moon-bound NASA spacecraft within a protective cover ahead of schedule as part of preparations for Hurricane Irene's potential brush with the Space Coast late this week.

{...}
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:35 PM   #4
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 Florida Today - The Flame Trench: Irene advances GRAIL launch preps:
Nice call. Would be a shame to see the (as for now) last Delta II being damaged.
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Old 08-23-2011, 01:24 PM   #5
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NASA / NASA JPL:
NASA Hosts News Conference on Upcoming Moon Mission

WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a news conference at 11 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. PDT) [15:00 UTC], on Thursday Aug. 25, to discuss the upcoming launch of the Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. Scheduled to launch Sept. 8, GRAIL will help answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon and provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in our solar system formed.

The event will take place at NASA Headquarters in Washington. It will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

The news conference panelists are:
  • Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
  • David Lehman, GRAIL project manager, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Leesa Hubbard, teacher in residence, Sally Ride Science, San Diego

The news conference will also be streamed live, with a chat available, at: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2.

{...}




NASA:
Aug. 23, 2011
MEDIA ADVISORY : M11-178
NASA Sets GRAIL/Delta II Launch Coverage Events


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's GRAIL spacecraft is set to launch to the moon aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket on Sept. 8, 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Fla.

There are two instantaneous (1 sec.) launch windows at 8:37:06 a.m. and 9:16:12 a.m. EDT. The launch period, the last for Delta IIs at the Cape, extends through Oct. 19. The launch times occur approximately four minutes earlier each day.

GRAIL's primary science objectives are to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core, and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

GRAIL Prelaunch News Conference

A prelaunch news conference will be at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Press Site on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 1 p.m. Participating in the briefing:
  • Ed Weiler, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Tim Dunn, NASA launch director, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla.
  • Vernon Thorp, program manager, NASA Missions, United Launch Alliance, Denver
  • David Lehman, GRAIL project manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.
  • John Henk, GRAIL program manager, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.
  • Joel Tumbiolo, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron, CCAFS

GRAIL Mission Science Briefing

A GRAIL mission science briefing will be at Kennedy's Press Site on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. Participating in the briefing:
  • Robert Fogel, GRAIL program scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
  • Sami Asmar, GRAIL deputy project scientist, JPL
  • Sally Ride, president and CEO, Sally Ride Science, San Diego
{...}

Delta II Mobile Service Tower Rollback

Sept. 7: There will be a media opportunity at CCAFS Pad 17B to observe rollback of the mobile service tower from the Delta II rocket.

{...}

NASA Television Coverage

NASA Television will carry the GRAIL prelaunch news conference beginning at 1 p.m. on Sept. 6 and the GRAIL mission science briefing on Sept. 7 at 10 a.m.

On Sept. 8, NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 6 a.m. and conclude after spacecraft separation from the Delta II approximately 58 minutes and 45 seconds after launch. Live launch coverage will be carried on all NASA Television channels and on the agency's website.

A post-launch news conference will be held at Kennedy's Press Site after launch. (Time TBD) A post-launch news release also will be issued when health of GRAIL is determined. NASA personnel will be available at the Press Site to answer questions and for interviews.

{...}
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Old 08-25-2011, 05:25 PM   #6
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NASA / NASA JPL:
NASA Moon Mission in Final Preparations for September Launch

August 25, 2011

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission to study the moon is in final launch preparations for a scheduled Sept. 8 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

GRAIL's twin spacecraft are tasked for a nine-month mission to explore Earth's nearest neighbor in unprecedented detail. They will determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core and advance our understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

"Yesterday's final encapsulation of the spacecraft is an important mission milestone," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Our two spacecraft are now sitting comfortably inside the payload fairing which will protect them during ascent. Next time the GRAIL twins will see the light of day, they will be about 95 miles up and accelerating."

Click on image to enlarge
The payload fairing is added to the GRAIL booster.
Image credit: NASA/KSC


The spacecraft twins, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, will fly aboard a Delta II rocket launched from Florida. The twins' circuitous route to lunar orbit will take 3.5 months and cover approximately 2.6 million miles (4.2 million kilometers) for GRAIL-A, and 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) for GRAIL-B.

In lunar orbit, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them. Regional gravitational differences on the moon are expected to expand and contract that distance.

GRAIL scientists will use these accurate measurements to define the moon's gravity field. The data will allow mission scientists to understand what goes on below the surface of our natural satellite.

"GRAIL will unlock lunar mysteries and help us understand how the moon, Earth and other rocky planets evolved as well," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

{...}

A prelaunch webcast for the mission will be streamed at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 7. Live countdown coverage through NASA's Launch Blog begins at 6:30 a.m. EDT (3:30 am PDT) on Sept. 8. Coverage features live updates as countdown milestones occur and streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

To view the webcast and the blog or to learn more about the GRAIL mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/grail and http://grail.nasa.gov.

The launch will also be streamed live, with a chat available, on http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2.

To view live interviews with lunar scientists from noon to 5 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. PDT) on Sept. 8 and 9, visit: http://www.livestream.com/grail.



NASA Press Release: RELEASE : 11-275 - NASA Moon Mission In Final Preparations For September Launch


Some more photos from GRAIL encapsulation:

Click on images to enlarge
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:04 PM   #7
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NASA Science Briefing - GRAIL

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Old 08-25-2011, 06:30 PM   #8
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SPACE.com: NASA Watches Hurricane Irene Ahead of Twin Moon Probe Launch:
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Hurricane Irene shouldn't slow preparations for upcoming NASA launches from Florida's Space Coast, including a moon-studying mission slated to blast off Sept. 8, the space agency says.

The latest forecasts call for Hurricane Irene to stay about 190 miles (306 kilometers) off the Florida coast, passing due east of NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at about 4 a.m. EDT Friday (Aug. 26), NASA officials said.

That path should bring some rain and strong winds to KSC. But the facility will stay open, and NASA will continue to prep the GRAIL mission — which will send two spacecraft to study the moon's interior — for its Sept. 8 launch from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

"It's looking like we're going to be OK, and it will have no impact on the GRAIL mission," David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told reporters today (Aug. 25).

{...}
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:51 AM   #9
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Grail launch press kit is available:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press_kits/graiLaunch.pdf
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:08 PM   #10
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SPACE.com: NASA Prepares Twin Moon Probes for Launch
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:37 PM   #11
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NASA: Twin GRAIL Spacecraft to Map the Moon's Gravity

SPACE.com: How NASA's GRAIL Probes Will Map the Moon's Gravity (Infographic)

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Old 09-06-2011, 02:32 PM   #13
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Florida Today - The Flame Trench: Weather Iffy For Delta Launch Thursday:
Quote:
{...}

The weather forecast for launch is a bit iffy. It calls for a 60-percent chance that thunderstorms or electrically charged clouds would keep the rocket grounded either Thursday or Friday.

{...}

Patrick AFB:
SPACE.con: NASA Watching Weather for Moon Gravity Probe Launch Thursday
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Old 09-07-2011, 05:34 PM   #14
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:30 PM   #15
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CBS News Space: GRAIL set for launch on innovative moon mission, weather permitting

[email protected]: GRAIL and the Mystery of the Missing Moon


Spaceflight Now: Mission Status Center:
Quote:
The weather forecast remains unchanged for tomorrow's launch, with meteorologists still predicting a 40 percent chance of acceptable conditions for liftoff to occur on schedule.

"A deep unstable southwesterly flow pattern continues to dominate the weather pattern across the region allowing warm, moist tropical air to flow across Central Florida. Additionally, a stationary surface trough is positioned across the Florida peninsula stretching from the Eastern Gulf of Mexico through central and northern Florida. This pattern will result in active and unstable conditions for the remainder of the week. Frequent scattered showers and thunderstorms are likely during the afternoon/evening hours Wednesday through Friday," this morning's forecast says.

"For (pad gantry) roll, west winds gusting 15-20 knots are expected during roll. Additionally, late evening thunderstorm/lightning activity may delay the beginning of the roll.

"On launch day, winds at Complex 17 are expected from the West gusting in the upper teens during the count and through the window. The primary concern for launch is anvil clouds moving over the Cape from persistent thunderstorm and lightning activity in the eastern Gulf and Florida west coast. Cumulus clouds and precipitation may also be a concern associated with the surface boundary draped across the region.

"In the event of a 24-hour delay, similar conditions are expected with winds from the west-southwest gusting in the upper teens. The primary concerns for a 24-hour delay are anvil clouds, cumulus clouds and precipitation."
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