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    GRAIL Lunar Probe to Unlock Moon's Mysteries

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    A twin spacecraft lunar probe called GRAIL is scheduled for launch next month. NASA scientist hope the GRAIL mission will help further understanding of how the moon evolved and what goes on beyond its cratered surface.

    NASA scientists Thursday say next month's lunar mission will help unlock the mystery of what goes on beyond moon's surface.

    The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, known as GRAIL, is tasked with a nine-month mission to explore the lunar interior from crust to core.

    Scientists hope to better understand the thermal evolution of the moon.

    GRAIL's twin spacecraft, set to launch on September 8, will fly a circuitous route taking 3.5 months.

    In orbit, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals defining the distance between the two craft.

    The gravitational differences on the moon should expand and contract the distance.

    GRAIL scientists can then use these measurements to define the moon's gravity field.

    [Maria Zuber, GRAIL's Principal Investigator, MIT]:
    "This will be the highest resolution gravity field for any planet including earth. On earth you can't get down low enough to make the kind of measurements that we're making because of the atmospheric drag. So the ability to do precise targeting of observations by humans or by future robotics explorers is going to be really unprecedented after this gravitational field is produced."

    Zuber says the mission will also shed light on how the moon, Earth and other rocky planets were created.