Help name the GRAIL spacecraft!

Courtesy NASA

The Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission has launched and is on its way to the moon. This mission will use a pair of spacecraft to measure and map the gravity on the moon. Gravity changes can be caused by mountains, valleys and other structures hidden beneath the lunar surface. Scientists are hoping that the data collected by GRAIL will provide clues to the internal structure of the moon and clues to its origin.

When a gravity change is encountered the two spacecrafts will move closer or further away from one another, depending on the type of change, and that distance will be translated into the gravity map. It is a similar method to the way the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) spacecraft has been successfully mapping Earth since 2002.

GRAIL has always had a heavy involvement from students. A set of MoonKAM cameras were included as part of the spacecraft design. These cameras will provide close-up views of the lunar surface, taking tens of thousands of images and sending them back to Earth.

Currently the two GRAIL spacecraft have very generic names, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B. NASA is calling all children from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade to rename these twin spacecraft. NASA is looking for kids to find names that will capture the spirit and excitement of lunar exploration.

So kids, get your thinking caps out, pick a couple names and a short explanation for your choices! Who knows, you could name two spacecraft that are orbiting the moon! Check out the NASA GRAIL Naming Contest Page for details about how to submit your entry. DEADLINE is Friday, November 11th!

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