Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Montana Students Name Twin Moon Probes

Hey Space Placers!

Yesterday, Jan. 17, NASA announced the new names for GRAIL A & B, now in lunar orbit. A contest for school kids was begun last October to name the twin lunar spacecraft and a class from Bozeman, Montana, came up with the winning names: Ebb and Flow.

From the NASA press release: "The names were submitted by fourth graders from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School. Nearly 900 classrooms with more than 11,000 students from 45 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia participated in the contest. Previously named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL-A and -B, the washing machine-sized spacecraft begin science operations in March, after a launch in September 2011. 

"The 28 students of Nina DiMauro's class at the Emily Dickinson Elementary School have really hit the nail on the head," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. "We were really impressed that the students drew their inspiration by researching GRAIL and its goal of measuring gravity. Ebb and Flow truly capture the spirit and excitement of our mission."

Ebb and Flow are also "NASA's first planetary mission carrying instruments fully dedicated to education and public outreach. Each spacecraft carries a small camera called GRAIL MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students). Thousands of students in grades five through eight will select target areas on the lunar surface and send requests for study to the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission Operations Center in San Diego. The winning prize for the Dickinson students is to choose the first camera images. Dickinson is one of nearly 2,000 schools registered for the MoonKAM program.

Contests and science participation such as this is fuel for the future. These students will be able to use the MoonKAM to pick a scientific point of interest, photograph it, analyze the results and write up their results. Kids just do not get enough opportunity to think, imagine and explore....Ebb and Flow can help them to do so.

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Sky Guy in VA

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