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January 11 2013
On December 17th 2012 two small spacecraft called Ebb and Flow punched into the lunar surface at over 3,700 miles an hour.
This ended the year long mission of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL). The twin spacecraft spent most of this time orbiting the Moon’s surface at a scarily low altitude of about 31 miles, sweeping in tandem above the dusty terrain never more than 140 miles apart from each other.
Microwave telemetry between the spacecraft, the Earth, and the application of basic geometry let GRAIL monitor the distance between Ebb and Flow to a precision of about a tenth of a micron – half the width of a human hair.
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