The GRAIL Mission

What was the GRAIL Mission and what did it achieve? Well, first and foremost, GRAIL stood for Gravity Recovery & Interior Laboratory. This mission was designed to investigate the gravitational field of the moon in very minute details allowing us to better understand the makeup and composition of the moon’s interior. In turn, the hope was that this would reveal a lot on the exact evolution of our solar system.

The two satellites or orbiters used for this mission were named Ebb and Flow. The names were suggested from elementary school children and it stuck. The two orbiters completed their triple mapping cycles and then a science mission too. Finally, when they were done, the two were shot straight to the moon surface in order to kick up some material that the LRO or Lunar Reconnaissance orbiter of NASA then picked up for investigation. This specific impact site was named as Sally Ride Impact Site.

The mission from March 2012 till its demise allowed students to pick and choose specific topographical entities for imagery. It was a public outreach effort but only on the surface. Underneath, the mission was always research oriented. However, the public outreach worked as over 600,000 students participated in the program and were treated to some amazing never before seen imagery of the dark side of the moon.