NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a video transmitted by the GRAIL lunar orbiters during their final days. The dramatic footage was taken on December 14, 2012 as part of a final systems check before the twin spacecraft shut down their instruments in preparation for a controlled impact into a lunar mountain.

Taken from the lead spacecraft Ebb’s MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school Students) cameras, it shows the view of Ebb flying at an altitude of 6 miles (10 km) above the Moon’s northern hemisphere in the vicinity of Jackson crater (22.4°N 163.1°W). The brief videos were made from stills from Ebb’s fore and aft cameras in two sequences made of 931 and 1,489 frames respectively and runs at six times normal in speed in playback.

The GRAIL mission was comprised of two unmanned spacecraft named Ebb and Flow that flew in tight formation as part of a mission to chart lunar gravitational anomalies, and resulted in the most detailed gravitational map of any body in the Solar System. In order to prevent contamination of historic lunar landing sites, the craft were deliberately crashed into a mountain near the lunar north pole on December 17, 2012.

The GRAIL video is below.

Source: JPL

View gallery - 4 images