NASA Names Moon Crash Site in Honor of Sally Ride
A pair of NASA spacecraft crashed into a mountain near the moon’s north pole on Monday, bringing a deliberate end to 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 final resting spot in honor of mission team member, Sally Ride, the first American woman in space who died earlier this year. By design, the impact site 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 back-to-back crashes occurred in the dark, they were 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 rocketing off the launch pad 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 loss of Ebb and Flow comes on the same month as the 40th launch anniversary of Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the moon.