NASA’s GRAIL Lunar Impact Site Named After Late Astronaut Sally Ride

By December 18, 2012
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“Sally was all about getting the job done, whether it be in exploring space, inspiring the next generation, or helping make the GRAIL mission the resounding success it is today. As we complete our lunar mission, we are proud we can honor Sally Ride’s contributions by naming this corner of the moon after her.”

pictured: location of the Sally K. Ride Impact Site

These were the words GRAIL’s (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) principal investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge had to say about the late astronaut Sally Ride, known around the world as America’s first woman in space and a member of GRAIL’s probes’ mission team.

NASA has named the site where Ebb and Flow (the twin agency spacecraft containing GRAIL) impacted the moon on Monday the Sally K. Ride Impact Site in honor of Ride’s accomplishments and contributions to the fields of science and education.

According to NASA’s official site, Ebb and Flow were commanded on Friday to descend into a lower orbit, resulting in an impact on a mountain near the moon’s north pole, which happened yesterday, and the location of the Sally K. Ride Impact Site is on the southern face of 1.5-mile-tall mountain near a crater known as Goldschmidt.

The GRAIL mission, NASA’s first planetary mission to carry cameras fully dedicated to education and public outreach, something Ride was incredibly passionate about, was led through an amazing program through Sally Ride Science known as MoonKAM.

MoonKAM’s (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) cameras took more than 115,000 images of the lunar surface, with the “targets” suggested by middle school students around the country with the images sent back to them to study.  The crafts’ names, Ebb and Flow, were also submitted by students with Ride herself choosing the winners.

Ride spent her life dedicated to science and education geared toward middle school students (especially girls) by making science fun and interactive until her death from pancreatic cancer July of this year.

“Sally Ride worked tirelessly throughout her life to remind all of us, especially girls, to keep questioning and learning. Today her passion for making students part of NASA’s science is honored by naming the impact site for her.” – Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.

pictured: GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber (left) and Bear Ride (sister of Sally Ride) after the GRAIL’s successful mission completion.

Ebb and Flow launched in September 2011 and has been orbiting the moon since Jan. 1, 2012 with Monday’s moon impact landing marking an end to the mission, which NASA concluded to be a success.

David Lehman, GRAIL project manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says “We will miss our lunar twins, but the scientists tell me it will take years to analyze all the great data they got, and that is why we came to the moon in the first place. So long, Ebb and Flow, and we thank you.”

And thank YOU for all you did for science and girls everywhere who wanna be just like you, Miss Ride.  Now you truly ARE part of the stars!

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Cricket Lee
Star Wars fangirl. Named Best Kisser by Time Magazine. CEO/Host: Girl Gamer; host of Gecken: GeekNation; writer: Dread Central. You'll have a crush on me soon. Vote Quimby. Twitter: @crixlee http://www.imdb.me/crixlee