News media participate in the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) prelaunch news conference held in the NASA Press Site auditorium at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On the dais, panelist from left are Ed Weiler, NASA associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate; Tim Dunn, NASA launch director for the agency’s Launch Services Program; Vernon Thorp, program manager, NASA Missions, United Launch Alliance; David Lehman, GRAIL project manager, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; John Henk, GRAIL program manager, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, Colo.; and Joel Tumbiolo, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. GRAIL is scheduled to launch Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
GRAIL will fly twin spacecraft in tandem around the moon to precisely measure and map variations in the moon's gravitational field. The mission will provide the most accurate global gravity field to date for any planet, including Earth. This detailed information will reveal differences in the density of the moon's crust and mantle and will help answer fundamental questions about the moon's internal structure, thermal evolution, and history of collisions with asteroids. The aim is to map the moon's gravity field so completely that future moon vehicles can safely navigate anywhere on the moon’s surface. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/grail. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett