NASA announced that the space agency has named the site where twin spacecraft impacted the moon Monday in honor of the late astronaut, Sally K. Ride, America's first woman in space and a member of the probes' mission team.
Last Friday according to NASA, Ebb and Flow, the two spacecraft comprising NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, were commanded to descend into a lower orbit that would result in an impact Monday on a mountain near the moon's north pole.
The formation-flying duo hit the lunar surface as planned at 2:28:51 p.m. on Friday.
The location of the Sally K. Ride Impact Site is on the southern face of an approximately 1.5 mile tall mountain near a crater named Goldschmidt.
"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," said GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
"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."
The impact marked a successful end to the GRAIL mission, which was NASA's first planetary mission to carry cameras fully dedicated to education and public outreach.
Ride, who died in July after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, led GRAIL's MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) Program through her company, Sally Ride Science, in San Diego.
"Sally Ride worked tirelessly throughout her life to remind all of us, especially girls, to keep questioning and learning," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.
"Today her passion for making students part of NASA's science is honored by naming the impact site for her."
For more information about GRAIL, visit the NASA website.
And for more on the GRAIL twins’ lunar impact, see the video accompanying this article.
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