NASA Probe Sends Back Pictures of Lunar South Pole

Posted February 1st, 2012 at 8:15 pm (UTC-5)
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A U.S. lunar probe has sent back its first images of the far side of the moon, showing a massive crater that is billions of years old.

Scientists say the pictures from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, known as GRAIL, should energize students who want to study and explore the moon.

The pictures give an excellent view of a basin that straddles both the near and far sides of the moon, and a huge crater near the lunar south pole. Scientists say a comet or asteroid slammed into the moon billions of years ago, creating the pit.

NASA launched two GRAILs on December 31 and January 1. Schoolchildren in Montana who won a nationwide contest got to nickname the two spacecraft Ebb and Flow.

The space agency says it hopes pictures the two spacecraft send back will give scientists a better understanding how the Earth and other planets were formed.