NASA named the site where the twin GRAIL spacecraft crashed in honor of the late astronaut Dr. Sally K. Ride, the first American woman to fly in space.
GRAIL was the first NASA planetary mission to include cameras dedicated to education and public outreach. Dr. Ride led this component until her death in July 2012 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Called MoonKAM, the program allowed middle school students nationwide to use cameras aboard the GRAIL spacecraft to snap detailed pictures of the Moon’s barren, cratered surface. Sally Ride Science, the science education company founded by Dr. Ride in 2001, continued her work in collaboration with undergraduate students at the University of California, San Diego, after her passing.
The location where the spacecraft crashed, on the southern face of a mountain near the Moon’s north pole, will be officially known as the Sally K. Ride Impact Site.
The twin robotic spacecraft that mapped the Moon’s gravity field were deliberately sent crashing into a huge mountain near the Moon’s north pole
The Sally K. Ride Impact Site is on the southern face of an approximately 1.5-mile-tall (2.5-kilometer-tall) mountain near a crater named Goldschmidt.
GRAIL Principal Investigator Maria Zuber (left) and Bear Ride, the sister of late astronaut Sally Ride, were on hand as the GRAIL twin spacecraft successfully completed their mission and crashed into the Moon. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech