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September 17 – 23, 2012 / Vol 31, No 38 / Hawai`i Island, USA

14 Sep 2012, 20:29 UTC
September 17 – 23, 2012 / Vol 31, No 38 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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Fleet of USA Orbiters Enhancing Human Understanding of Moon
Five of the most advanced USA planetary spacecraft continue to gather valuable data about the Moon. NASA twin GRAIL spacecraft’s extended science mission is expected to run from Aug 30 – Dec 3, 2012. In the extended mission the craft have halved their average operating altitudes to 23km, taking them within 8km of the highest lunar areas. This lower altitude is allowing GRAIL to provide researchers with unprecedented data of the gravitational influence of the Moon’s surface and subsurface features. On Friday, Sep 21, Sam Lawrence (TL) of Arizona State University will be giving a LPI Seminar Series lecture in Houston TX on ‘New Insights Into Lunar Geology from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera’. In mid September, LRO is completing the 2nd year of its Extended Science mission. The probe, and its 7 science payloads, are expected to continue operating from its 30 X 216-km quasi-frozen commissioning orbit for at least another year before finally running out of fuel and crashing into the surface. The twin Artemis orbiters are expected to continue studying the lunar magnetic field for another 6-9 years. (Image Credit: NASA, Olaf Frohn)
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