NASA finally launched its moon research mission, after a couple of weather delays. The launched twin satellites named Grail A and Grail B short form for Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory took off on Saturday morning at 0908 EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to unveil the inner secrets of the moon. The two probes will study the moon’s internal structure in unprecedented detail, shedding light on whether a second moon crashed into it long ago.

GRAIL will study how the moon was formed. It will explore “the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core… to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon,” NASA said.

The first of the two robotic spacecraft separated from the Delta II upper stage 1 hour and 21 minutes after launch at 10:28 a.m. ET and the second spacecraft separated eight minutes later.

Even though the spacecraft duo was launched on the same day, they will arrive at the moon one day apart. The first orbiter, GRAIL-A arrives on 31 Dec 2011 and GRAIL-B arrives 25 hours later on 1 Jan 2012.

After they reach the moon in about four months’ time, the probes will measure slight variations in the strength of the moon’s gravity, which isn’t uniform due to the uneven distribution of matter inside it.

Once in orbit, the orbiters’ speeds will increase when they pass over formations on the moon’s surface, allowing scientists to measure those formations based on the distance between the two spacecraft.

NASA’s two GRAIL spacecrafts are designed and built by Lockheed Martin.

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