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NASA To Launch Mission To Moon's Center

This article is more than 11 years old.

NASA plans to launch a mission to the center of the Moon Thursday morning. Weather permitting, two spacecraft will blast off aboard an unmanned rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. In about three months they will begin mapping the Moon’s gravitational pull.

It’s all part of what’s called the gravity recovery and interior laboratory, or GRAIL, project. Its lead investigator, MIT professor Maria Zuber, says that the project will — for the first time ever — dive into the core of the Moon.

“The interior of a planet has a lot to say about what the record is on the surface,” Zuber said. “We haven’t studied the interior of a planet, except for Earth, as we have the opportunity to do with the Moon, especially in terms of its earlier evolution.”

Researchers want to calculate the Moon’s gravitational pull and hope the study will give insight in to how the Moon was created.

“We have the opportunity to take the information we’ve gained from other missions that have studied the surface and then combine them with this unprecedented data that we’re going to get from the lunar interior,” Zuber said. Scientist want to “put all of that information together and essentially reconstruct the crime — go back and look at the detective story of what the story of the moon was.”

This program aired on September 8, 2011.

Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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