Space:

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ali­cia Chang

A pair of NASA space­craft are de­lib­er­ately crashed into a moun­tain near the moon’s north pole, end­ing a mis­sion that peered into the lu­nar in­te­rior.

PASADENA, CALIf. — A pair of NASA space­craft were de­lib­er­ately crashed into a moun­tain near the moon’s north pole on Mon­day, end­ing a mis­sion that peered into the lu­nar in­te­rior.

Engi­neers com­manded the twin space­craft, Ebb and Flow, to fire their en­gines and burn their re­main­ing fuel. Ebb plunged first fol­lowed by Flow about 30 sec­onds later.

Af­ter­ward, NASA said it had ded­i­cated the im­pact site in honor of mis­sion team mem­ber Sally Ride, the first Amer­i­can woman in space, who died ear­lier this year. By de­sign, the spot was far away from the Apollo land­ings and other his­tor­i­cal sites.

Ride’s sis­ter, who hud­dled in the NASA con­trol room for the fi­nale, said it might be time to dust off Ride’s first tele­scope to view the newly named site.

“We can look at the moon with a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion and a smile in the evening when we see it know­ing that a lit­tle cor­ner of the moon is named af­ter Sally,” the Rev. Bear Ride said in an in­ter­view.

Since the crash oc­curred in the dark, it was not vis­i­ble from Earth. The Lu­nar Re­con­nais­sance Or­biter cir­cling the moon will pass over the moun­tain and at­tempt to pho­to­graph the skid marks left by the wash­ing ma­chine-sized space­craft as they hit the sur­face at 3,800 mph.

Af­ter launch­ing in Septem­ber 2011, Ebb and Flow took a round­about jour­ney to the moon, ar­riv­ing over the New Year’s hol­i­day on a grav­ity-map­ping mis­sion.

More than 100 mis­sions have been flung to Earth’s near­est neigh­bor since the dawn of the Space Age, in­clud­ing NASA’s six Apollo moon land­ings that put 12 as­tro­nauts on the sur­face.

The demise of Ebb and Flow comes on the same month as the 40th launch an­niver­sary of Apollo 17, the last manned mis­sion to the moon.

Ebb and Flow fo­cused ex­clu­sively on mea­sur­ing the moon’s lumpy grav­ity field in a bid to learn more about its in­te­rior and early his­tory. Af­ter fly­ing in for­ma­tion for months, they pro­duced the most de­tailed grav­ity maps of any body in the so­lar sys­tem.

Data so far also ap­peared to quash the the­ory that Earth once had two moons that col­lided and melded into one.

Sally Ride was the first Amer­i­can woman in space.

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