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NASA delays GRAIL moon mission launch


NASA's GRAIL twin spacecraft await launch atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Photo: NAS/JPL

WASHINGTON (AFP): High winds on Thursday forced NASA to delay its planned launch of a USD 500 million duo of unmanned spacecraft that will use gravity tools to map the inner core of the Moon for the first time.

The next launch opportunities at Florida's Cape Canaveral will open on Friday at 8:33 am (1803 IST) or 9:12 am (1842 IST), the US space agency said.

Scientists hope the satellites will help solve mysteries about how the Moon formed, how the unexplored far side differs from the near side which humans have walked on, and whether there was once another Moon that melded with ours.

Known as GRAIL (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory), the twin satellites would arrive in the Moon's polar orbit around the start of the New Year and circle it for about three months, using gravity mapping to reveal what lies inside.

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