Two spacecraft orbiting the moon will be intentionally crashed into a lunar mountain at nearly 4,000 miles per hour today.
“The spacecraft will be flown into a mountain on the edge of a crater near the moon’s north pole,”The Guardian reports.
Reportedly, the dramatic measure is the only option for the space agency, NASA, because the two probes are running out of fuel.
Because of this, the decision was taken to ” stage a controlled descent and impact,” saidThe Guardian.
According to MSN, “It’s a carefully choreographed ending so they don’t end up crashing into the Apollo landing sites or any other place on the moon with special importance.”
The twin probes — gravity recovery and interior laboratory [Grail] –– are called “Ebb” and “Flow.”
Grail’s job, notes MSN, has been to chase “each other around the moon for nearly a year,” mapping the moon in unprecedented detail. Thousands of images and photographs have sent back to NASA during that time.
But, today “Grail’s” mission will come crashing down.
The Guardian explains that, once the spacecraft have been flown into a crater’s edge mountain near the north pole, “both will hit the surface at 2.28pm PST [5.28pm EST, 10.28pm GMT] at a speed of 3,760mph.”
Rather disappointingly, they add that there won’t be any movie-like implosions “because the region will be in shadow.”
Maria Zuber, principal investigator for “Grail” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The Guardian:
“It is going to be difficult to say goodbye. 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.”
In what will be their last experiment, the probes “will fire their main engines until they have run out of fuel to determine the precise amount of propellant left in their tanks,” said The Guardian.
This will help NASA engineers plot more “accurate predictions of the fuel needs of future missions.”
MSN gets “The Big Bang Theory” award for remembering that the last time NASA purposely “fired man-made objects at the moon was in 2009, but it was for the sake of science” — not an emergency.