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TMCNet:  NASA probe collects stunning lunar images before its demise

[January 16, 2013]

NASA probe collects stunning lunar images before its demise

Jan 16, 2013 (Los Angeles Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Just three days before NASA deliberately destroyed its twin probes Ebb and Flow, scientists had Ebb complete one final task: collecting the breathtaking images of the moon's surface, seen above.

Ebb was flying just 6 miles above the northern hemisphere of the far side of the moon when it took the 2,400 still images that were later stitched together to create the two-minute video.

It's a stunning view of the surface of the moon, in all its pockmarked and cratered glory.

The images were collected as part of a final check of the spacecraft's equipment in the days prior to its demise.

Ebb & Flow were part of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission, better known as GRAIL. Each probe was about the size of a washing machine, and they worked in tandem to measure the lunar gravity field.

They were launched from Earth in September 2011, and after completing their primary three-month mission they went on to complete an extended mission.

But by mid-December, they were no longer fit for duty. They were in low orbit around the moon and running out of fuel. To keep them from crashing into the Apollo landing site, or other lunar sites of historical significance, NASA decided to purposely send them hurtling to their end at 3,760 mph on December 17.

BAM! Ebb went first. Flow went down less than a minute later. But they left scientists with a better understanding of the moon's crust, and us regular folks some really gorgeous images of the moon, including this video.

___ (c)2013 the Los Angeles Times Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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