Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory

I went to Cambridge, MA last week for the Critical Design Review for GRAIL which is a NASA mission aiming to precisely measure the moon's gravity field.  It will launch on a Delta II in 2011 from CCAFS, and is the last planned NASA Delta II mission.  The science portion is led by MIT, and as such we were able to take a tour of several labs on campus, including two which will be involved in GRAIL data processing activities.

The CDR was definitely an interesting learning experience – it's really good exposure to all the aspects of the mission, from science objectives to processing logistics to budget and schedule.  Especially interesting was the discussion of the spacecraft subsystems, design margin, and how changes to one system affect the others.  Trade-offs are unavoidable!

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