NASA delays moon mission until Saturday
September 9th, 2011
05:11 AM ET

NASA delays moon mission until Saturday

NASA delayed its Friday launch of a moon research mission because of weather issues and will retry on Saturday.

The mission, called GRAIL, will study how the moon was formed. It will explore "the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core... to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon," NASA said.

The mission will provide new information about how the moon formed and will allow students to take their own pictures of its surface, panelists announced at a news conference at NASA headquarters in Washington on Thursday.

The two spacecraft will be launched in the same housing, which will separate. They will enter synchronized orbits in January, principal investigator Maria Zuber said. The slow trip saves energy. Once in orbit, their speeds will increase when they pass over formations on the moon's surface, allowing scientists to measure those formations based on the distance between the two spacecraft.

The project aims to study how the moon formed, its interior composition and why the side seen from Earth looks so different from the "far side," which isn't as dark because of lava flows, Zuber said.

"Clearly we don't understand what is happening inside the moon," she said.

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Filed under: Solar System • Space
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Jt_flyer

    Man has walked on the moon. Anything less is a step backwards.

    September 9, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Norm.

      What do ya say we just let the moon alone before we wreck that too.....

      September 9, 2011 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      Bullpuckey. You obviously know diddly about how science actually works, so howzabout you stay silent on subjects you're ignorant about next time?

      September 9, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      (And how, pray tell, do you "ruin" a lifeless, heat-and-cold-blasted airless ball of rock?! Explain.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Gracko

      I agree. It's time to dance on the moon.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • jojob

      "And how, pray tell, do you "ruin" a lifeless, heat-and-cold-blasted airless ball of rock?"

      You put rednecks on it, have them dance around, and let them throw their beer cans all over the place.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      Fine. How does littering on a lifeless ball of rock "ruin" it? Ruin it for what purpose? What would those beer cans stop us from doing later? Answer: Not a damn thing.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • jt_flyer

      I believe the US NEEDS an aggressive, Hail Mary, moon program- just like we did in 1969 AND for exactly the same reasons. Apollo was not some ancient astronaut or reckless cowboy. It was real and it was spectacular. Our current NASA has lost its spirit and opportunity with the rest of our country. I’ve spoken with retired astronauts whose careers spanned Apollo to the shuttle. NASA’s evolution has not been a positive one.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      MOCaseA – 2 questions for you...

      1) If Petroleum is the by product of superheated and pressurized organic matter, why isn't it biodegradable?
      2) If "to our knowledge" the moon has never held oceans or carbon based life, how else are we supposed to find out? Being unable to tell that you're a fool just by looking at you from a distance doesn't mean that you're actually smart.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      '1) If Petroleum is the by product of superheated and pressurized organic matter, why isn't it biodegradable?'
      It is, in its crude oil form. Once its been processed into plastics and stuff then it isnt

      September 9, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • richajam

      something valuable has to make us want to go back to the moon- or make us think they are going back to the moon- perhaps there is another purpose. =) Sometimes things are not always what they seem- or what they tell us. Ever tell your kids one thing to throw them off track while you do something else completely different? Everyone loves surprise parties.... right?......err... dont they? =)

      September 9, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. Marty in MA

    They must be looking for oil or other resources, really

    -m

    September 9, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Norm.

      Our economy is in the tank and we're going to spend money on this???
      That's like taking a trip to Vegas on your credit card.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • TimBlough

      Helium-3, actually

      September 9, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • MOCaseA

      Are you really that uneducated. Oil is the breakdown, under pressure and heat, of large concentrations of carbon-based organic matter. They are generally associated with ancient oceans and the algae/plankton blooms that occurred in them. As the moon never contained ancient oceans, let alone carbon-based life (to our knowledge), we can therefor assume, with a pretty high degree of certainty, that the Moon contains no oil.

      As for other resources, the moon is composed of primarily silica and iron, both of which are more than abundant on Earth.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      Helium-3 is a VERY valuable commodity already, and "hot" fusion is still on the horizon. Plus, the laundry list of benefits from the space program (semiconductors, superconductors, GPS, computers, calculators, climate modeling, etc. etc. etc.) is obviously too long for someone too lazy to google "benefits of the US space program" to comprehend. Get hence.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • jt_flyer

      The moon has an abundance of Helium-3 also called tralphium. If gold bars were stacked on the moon it would not be cost effective to retrieve them. No so for Helium-3.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. govind

    Took me a while to recognize the tiny rocket when our pride images were the mighty SATURN V and SHUTTLE beauties. Where are we heading with this?

    September 9, 2011 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      CHeaper and more reliable, that's where. A Saturn-V was INCREDIBLY expensive, re:" dollars-per-pound-to-orbit.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Gracko

      I used a Motorola brick cell phone when it came out. It was the Saturn V of cell phones and frankly, I'm glad I'll never have to use it again.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  4. Cheese

    It's cheese isn't it?

    September 9, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. ed

    thats cause we never made it there the first time around!

    September 9, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • MOCaseA

      With a good telescope (not that cheap handheld thing you bought at Toys 'R Us) you can see some of the evidence of the moon LANDINGS (yes, there were multiple!) left by man. More-over there is a special reflector on the surface of the moon that you can point a specific type of laser at and actually get a reflection back from, a reflector placed there by a man, not a machine.

      I'll let you figure out how to use Google to find out what type of laser, and what part of the moon to point it at.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Barry

      I second your comments Ed an offer this as food for thought; because we view the USA as a world 'leader,' that means other people follow us. Why has not ONE single nation besides ours gone to the moon? Apparently, all a country really needs is 40 year old technology to get there, right? Why haven't others gone? The simplest reason (which tends to be the most accurate) is plainly because no one has ever been there. While some say God Bless the USA, I say, stop lying to me. I can handle the truth. The moon isn't a big deal. Who cares?

      September 9, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • JustEric

      @Barry & ed: The fatal flaw in the "man has never been to the moon" argument is that ALL of the "evidence" that we never went there is based off of information we know about the moon BECAUSE WE WENT THERE.

      "I've never been to California. That place is a pit!"

      "How do you know it's a pit?"

      "I saw it with my own eyes when I went there!"

      "But you said you never went there."

      "I didn't! I won't go there because it's a pit!"

      You guys couldn't sound more crazy and delusional if you tried.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • jroktt

      Watch Mythbusters episode on the Moon Landing conspiracies. Good stuff!

      September 9, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Chris

    If you want to know why so many humans are interested in the moon, or other planets in our solar system, try reading "Cosmos" by Carl Sagan – there is also a video series with the same name, some of which you can find on youtube. If you don't want to buy a book, you can visit the NASA website where you can find plenty of information on the significance and implications of their missions.

    September 9, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. bassmaster22

    It's easy to say that we need to focus on other things before focusing on this but eventually we will have to leave Earth. I know everyone things the planet is a perpetual resource machine, but it's not. Eventually, we will have to look elsewhere for raw materials and resources. There's a lot of other thing less useful things we could cut before the space program like spending millions of dollars on tagging bears in Alaska...unless it turns out that bears can be used as an alternative fuel source. Which I doubt.

    September 9, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      I for one am all for bear powered vehicles.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • sosofresh

      You hear that, Ed? Bears. Now you're putting the whole station at risk.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. bassmaster22

    It's easy to say that we need to focus on other things before focusing on this but eventually we will have to leave Earth. I know everyone thinks the planet is a perpetual resource machine, but it's not. Eventually, we will have to look elsewhere for raw materials and resources. There's a lot of other thing less useful things we could cut before the space program like spending millions of dollars on tagging bears in Alaska...unless it turns out that bears can be used as an alternative fuel source. Which I doubt.

    September 9, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Punjab83

    Have you seen Apollo 18!?! I would delay the mission too!

    September 9, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    It's also about survival of our species. Should earth experience another extinction event like what happened in the past, it would mean the end of humanity unless we somehow have been able to begin a colony elsewhere.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. Russ

    I am pro space, but I'm not in favor of manned missions. They are a waste of money since automated equipment can do all that man can do and more. That is except for things like repair equipment that is already in space. So, this is a good mission. It will further knowledge at minimal cost.
    I'm also for a space program as long as it is not so large that it affects the economy in a negative way. As is, the NASA budget is very small in comparison to everything else, and it employs people which bolster the economies of the cities where it is located and where it's contractors are.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Scott

    I guess their trying to see "how the Moon was formed"!!!!!

    September 9, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jim

    I hope this mission succeeds. It could one day open the door to landing a man on the moon.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tony

    I sure am glad everyone's tax dollars are being taken away during this time of high employment, gas prices, and hardship to spend on this important mission.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. sosofresh

    question for the readers: everyone has heard about the folks who claim the apollo moon missions were faked. we have telescopes that can read, from space, the headlines on the newspapers being held by people here on earth. why don't we just point said telescope(s) at the moon? If they spot a US flag, lunar rover or other equipment that was left behind after the apollo missions, any argument regarding the validity of man walking on the moon should be essentially over. Has this been suggested before? Just seems like a fail-safe way to end the debate (other than prob a few tinfoil hat-wearers who will claim that the equipment was just sent up there to fool everyone).

    September 9, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
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