LAMP Observes GRAIL Impact
The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission comprised a pair of satellites that together measured the gravity field of the Moon. GRAIL ended its mission with a planned impact into the side of a lunar mountain on December 17, 2012. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) maneuvered into an orbit that would allow it to observe the impact. One of LRO's instruments, the Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP), looked for the chemical signatures of a number of elements, including hydrogen and mercury, in the dust plume kicked up by the impact.
This animation shows the relative positions of GRAIL and LRO at the time of the impact, as well as the view from LAMP as it scanned for the dust plume. The LAMP sensor is a 6.0° x 0.3° slit that was positioned to look over the limb of the Moon, so that it would be pointed into the tenuous dust plume with only the sky in the background. This observation was possible, in part, because GRAIL impacted on the night side of the Moon, where there was no concern that LAMP's sensitive detector could be blinded by sunlit terrain. From Earth, the Moon was a waxing crescent at the time of the impact.
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
MissionsThis visualization is related to the following missions:
Datasets used in this visualization
SPICE Ephemerides (SPICE Ephemerides)ID: 755Ephemeris NASA/JPL
Satellite and planetary ephemeridesSee all pages that use this dataset
LRO DEM (Digital Elevation Map)ID: 653Collected with LOLA
U.S. Naval Observatory UCAC3 (Catalog)ID: 724Database Collected with Third CCD Astrograph USNO
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