By Chris Capps 9/12/11
A Delta 2 rocket launched Saturday is heading up into the point between Earth and the Moon where its precious cargo will have minimal gravitational pull from either direction. NASA's goal? Discover once and for all what's inside the moon. The tiny sensors on-board the twin satellites can detect so finely that they are taking into consideration other astral bodies – including Pluto. And if discovering what's inside the moon isn't enough, the name NASA has given the project has more than a few doing a double take.
For centuries people have speculated what's inside the moon. And now almost half a century after man first walked on the Lunar surface we are finally hoping to discover just what mankind was walking on. No longer satisfied with surface samples or detecting water on the surface, NASA is hoping to get at the heart of the matter – so to speak.
The Delta Two rocket that launched the twin satellites has on-board two Grail satellites. The name given to the satellites seems more than a little odd given the long history NASA has with naming its vessels. And some are even asking if there's something we don't yet know about behind this project. Is there another reason these ships are being called "Grail one and two?" If there is an interesting answer, we should know by December 31st or January 1st when the vessels reach orbit around the moon.
And theories behind what precisely is inside the moon have varied as much as theories about what its surface composition is. Popular lore suggests that once people thought the moon was made of cheese. Of course this wasn't as widely believed as some would suggest, but it's an interesting note on how we once saw our nearest celestial neighbor. Perhaps most troubling is the fact that in all of our explorations no one really knows how the moon was formed even today. There are several theories, but the Apollo missions discredited most of these – including the "capture" theory that the moon was originally a rogue astral body that eventually fell into orbit with Earth.
And there are some who suggest the moon is actually hollow. The hollow moon theory, much like the hollow Earth theory suggests that the moon is a structure whose interior has vast quantities of space within it that would allow an entire race of beings to exist shielded from the harsh vacuum of space around it without the aid of an atmosphere. Needless to say if this was the case, the Grail satellites will uncover it. Of course whether they share this or it goes into a vault of classified information is still open for debate.
NASA is still attempting to make every penny count after the cancellation of the shuttle program, and has done so with unmanned space flights hoping to return data of the universe around us. One of NASA's greatest successes in recent history came with the discovery of water on the Lunar surface with the Chandrayaan 1 from India and L-CROSS vessels.