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Students tapped to rename lunar orbiters 'Ebb' and 'Flow'

January 17, 2012
  • Using a precision formation-flying technique, the twin GRAIL spacecraft will map the moon's gravity field, as depicted in this artist's rendering. detail. (Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Using a precision formation-flying technique, the twin…

The two twin lunar orbiters recently launched by NASA will no longer be known as Grail A and B. A fourth-grade class in Bozeman, Mont., has renamed the probes Ebb and Flow.

The class beat out more than 11,000 students from across the nation who submitted essays and potential names in the contest. NASA administrators announced the winners Tuesday at a press conference that was streamed online.

Students at Emily Dickinson Elementary School revealed the two names letter by letter on placards in a cheerleader-esque chant via an online video conference. Their teacher, Nina DiMauro, was ecstatic.

“Oh my gosh, this is unbelievable!” she said as her class cheered in the background. “It’s an exceptional honor. We can’t believe that it actually happened to us.”

As the winning class, DiMauro and her students will be the first campus to use the “moon-cam” on the orbiters — an educational tool that will be available to schools that incorporate the $496-million mission into their lesson plans.

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NASA expects more than 3,000 classrooms to sign up for the program.

Ebb and Flow are scheduled to start mapping the moon and its gravitational field in mid-March. The information will give scientists an unprecedented understanding of the formation of the moon and other planets in the solar system.

Before announcing the names, NASA's chief of planetary science, Jim Green, said the mission would “open a new era for us."

RELATED:

Probes to study formation of the moon

-- Jason Wells, Times Community News

Twitter: @JasonBretWells

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