NASA Names Moon Satellite Crash Site After Sally Ride

BY Sunnivie Brydum

December 18 2012 4:34 PM ET

NASA intentionally crashed a pair of twin satellites orbiting the moon on Monday and named the crash site after Sally Ride, America's first woman in space, who died in July at the age of 61, leaving behind her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy.  

The two gravity-mapping Grail probes, known as Ebb and Flow, slammed into a crater near the moon's north pole at 5:28 p.m. Monday, according to Space.com. The crash site will be known as Sally Ride, in an homage to the astronaut's numerous contributions to the Grail mission. 

"We know that NASA has plans for celebrating Sally's accomplishments in many different areas," said Grail mission principal investigator Maria Zuber of MIT on a NASA TV livestream. "But her contributions to education in Grail and more generally to science, technology, and math education, are very, very special to our team, so we're happy to be able to do this for her today."

Space.com reports that Ride led Grail's MoonKAM project, which allowed schoolchildren around the world to select sites for the satellites to photograph. 

The Reverend Bear Ride, Sally's sister, said the entire family was excited about the commemoration of the late astronaut.

"We're so grateful to Maria and to the team for continuing this dream and making it such a complete success," Ride told Space.com. "It's really cool to to know that when you look up at the moon now, there's this little corner of the moon that's named after Sally. And we hope that kids will really be inspired by that as well."

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