JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– This weekend a pair of NASA spacecrafts will begin orbiting the moon. Both were built in Colorado.
Scientists believe the Grail Project could provide new information about the lunar landscape than when the U.S. landed there 41 years ago.
“The main secret of the moon is the interior of the moon,” said Grail Program Manager Stuart Spath.
NASA will steer the two nearly identical spacecraft into orbit around the moon.
“This spacecraft with the two spacecraft configuration will be able to measure the gravity and use that to infer the interior composition of the moon,” said Spath.
The spacecraft were built by Lockheed Martin in Jefferson County. They were launched in September but will just be reaching the moon before New Year’s.
It took more than three months to reach the moon because going slowly means Grail can be put into the lunar orbit with a smaller, fuel-saving rocket.
Using twin satellites also allows for triangulation with the earth. It’s the most precise way to measure the moon’s gravity, when one starts pulling, the other craft can sense it.
Spath and his team of support engineers will be on duty this weekend making sure the preloaded orbit commands are carried out as planned.
“We’re all excited and optimistic of the results,” said Spath.
The data collection begins in March 2012 and lasts for three months. When the data is collected NASA will have a better understanding of the moon’s gravity than the earth’s.
By learning more about the moon scientists hope Grail will help better explain the origin of the solar system.