London: NASA’s gravity mapping satellites, Ebb and Flow, crashed into the surface of the Moon on Monday, finally ending their science mission.
The satellites were commanded to slam into a 2km-high mountain in the far lunar north.
The US space agency’s deep-space radio-tracking system confirmed the loss of signal from the satellites just before 22:30 GMT.
Afterwards, it was announced the impact site would be named for Sally Ride, after the first female American astronaut who died earlier this year. Ride’s educational programme had run the outreach cameras on the spacecraft.
The satellite twins returned some remarkable data during their operational mission, which got under way in March. Their maps of the subtle variations in gravity across the Moon’s surface are expected to transform many areas of planetary science.
“Ebb and Flow have removed a veil from the Moon and removing this veil will enable discoveries about the way the Moon formed and evolved for many years to come,” said principal investigator Prof Maria Zuber from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US.
Together known as Grail (Gravity Recovery and Internal Laboratory), the pair hit the flank of the lunar-nearside mountain about 3km and 30 seconds apart.