Launched as GRAIL A and GRAIL B in September 2011, the probes were renamed Ebb and Flow by schoolchildren in Montana. The probes operated in almost circular orbit near the lunar poles at an altitude of approximately 34 miles, until their mission came to an end in December 2012. The distance between the twin probes altered a bit as they soared over areas of lesser and greater gravity that were caused by visible topological features on the Moon's surface, such as impact craters and mountains--as well as by masses that were secreted beneath the lunar surface.
These icy moon-worlds are the next important step in the scientific quest for the Holy Grail of life beyond our own planet. It is a strange era in human history. Astronomers have collected large amounts of data revealing bewitching clues that habitable ocean moon-worlds may be out there, within the family of our very own Star. Humanity is poised at the beginning of a new era. Sophisticated new technology might very soon answer the profound, and very ancient question, "Are we alone?"
The Ocean Worlds Of Our Solar System. There are more than 100 moons in our Solar System that do their mysterious gravitational dance around the eight major planets belonging to our Sun's family. Most of them are icy and small, containing only tiny quantities of rocky material, and they circle around the quartet of giant gaseous planets that dwell in the outer regions of our Solar System. The four majestic, giant denizens of the outer limits--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are cloaked in blankets of gas, and they are orbited by sparkling, icy moons and moonlets. Of the quartet of relatively small, rocky terrestrial planets--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--Mercury and Venus are moonless, and Mars is circled by a pathetic duo of tiny and somewhat deformed moons (Phobos and Deimos). The two little moons of Mars are interesting objects, frequently considered to be asteroids that escaped from the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, only to be snared by the Red Planet's gravitational pull when our Solar System was young. Earth's own beautiful, beguiling, bewitching Moon is the only large one inhabiting the inner kingdom of our Solar System.