"Sophisticated" 4th Graders Choose Ebb & Flow as GRAIL Names

"Sophisticated" 4th Graders Choose Ebb & Flow as GRAIL Names

A fourth grade class in Bozeman, MT won the competition to name NASA’s two GRAIL spacecraft.  The GRAIL mission is mapping the Moon’s gravity field. The winning names are Ebb & Flow, a reference to the tides here on Earth that are caused by gravitational interaction between the Moon and Earth.

GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber commented in a press conference today that the winning essay written by the 4th graders showed “sophisticated thinking.”   The students and their teacher, Nina  Dimauro, participated in the press conference via Skype from their schoolroom at Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman.  Zuber later added that the GRAIL team members had their own favorite names for the probes, but none was as good as the names submitted by the students participating in the competition.  About 900 pairs of names were submitted, she said.

The prize for the winners is that they will be the first class to use the MoonKAM cameras aboard the two GRAIL spacecraft.   Former astronaut Sally Ride and Zuber worked together to include the MoonKAM cameras on the spacecraft.  Ride now leads Sally Ride Science, a company dedicated to supporting children’s interest in science, math, engineering, and technology.  Ride, who spoke via teleconference, said it was the first science mission to carry an experiment specifically devoted to education.    She said that over 2,100 classrooms already had signed up for the MoonKAM project, and as many as 3,000 were expected to sign up by March when GRAIL’s mapping mission begins.  The students will “own” the cameras and get to control them.

The twin spacecraft entered lunar orbit over New Year’s, and three orbit-lowering engine burns have taken place already.    GRAIL A (Ebb) is at 93 kilometers above the lunar surface now, while GRAIL B (Flow) is at 109 kilometers.   Several more burns are scheduled to lower the orbits to 55 kilometers, when the mapping mission will begin.

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.