Tonight beginning at 5pm, NASA will livestream video of two lunar probe spacecraft as they’re intentionally crashed into the side of a mountain near the Moon’s north pole. The spacecraft, reports Geekosystem, are Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar probes that go by the names Ebb and Flow and have been orbiting the moon since September of last year, beaming back images and information during what’s been deemed a “successful and useful mission.” The GRAIL mission is reportedly coming to an end because the spacecraft lack sufficient fuel for the return trip to Earth.
You can watch NASA’s live stream of the lunar probe crash below:
According to the Kenneth Chang of the New York Times, “The exercise will not be for the advance of science, but rather something of a garbage-disposal operation, to make sure that the probes — which are running out of fuel — do not come to rest in a historically significant place, like on Neil Armstrong’s footprints.”
While Ebb and Flow currently drift unknowingly in their final hours of life, “even in their demise,” said Chang, they “may be able to aid the cause of science” as another of NASA’s spacecraft, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, will reportedly pass over the eventual crash sites, hopefully telling scientists — via the remnants of a crater rim — something about the mountain from the gouges created by impact.
NASA’s coverage will begin at 5pm (EST) with the live spacecraft crash predicted to occur at approximately 5:28pm. NASA scientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will provide running, live commentary for the event, according the the NASA website. Sadly, the ultimate lunar impact point for Ebb and Flow will be hidden from view–yes, taking place on the dark side of the moon. But the approach and commentary should be interesting, especially since NASA engineers are known for investing incredible passion (and money) into such missions.
Image via nasa.gov