NASA to Announce Names for Moon Gravity Probes Today
Artist's concept of NASA's Grail mission. Grail's twin spacecraft are flying in tandem orbits around the moon to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail.
Credit: NASA/JPL

After a nationwide student contest, NASA will announce the newly selected names for a pair of twin moon probes today (Jan. 17). 

The agency's twin Grail spacecraft (short for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) are in orbit around the moon and will map the lunar gravity field in unprecedented detail. The probes are expected to help scientists better understand how the moon formed and evolved.

In a press conference at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT), NASA will announce the names selected for Grail A and Grail B from a nationwide contest involving more than 11,000 students from 900 schools. The contest, which began in October 2011, saw entries from students from 45 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, agency officials said in a statement.

The two Grail spacecraft successfully arrived at the moon one-by-one on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. During today's event, the status of the spacecraft and upcoming plans for science operations will also be discussed, agency officials said.

The participants are:

  • John Grunsfeld, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Leland Melvin, associate administrator for Education, NASA Headquarters
  • Maria Zuber, Grail principal investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Sally Ride, president and CEO, Sally Ride Science, San Diego
  • Teachers and students submitting the selected names

The event will be held at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., but will also be broadcast on NASA Television here.

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