Earlier this month, I gave a minor overview of NASA’s Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. I had mentioned that the two mirror-twin spacecraft that make up the mission were currently — and temporarily — dubbed GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, with official names coming later in the month. Beginning last October, NASA appealed to elementary students to come up with replacement names for the spacecraft.
Over 11,000 students, from 45 states and several territories, participated in contest, making for stiff competition.
Ultimately, it was the 4th Grade students from Emily Dickinson Elementary school, in Bozeman, Montana, who were chosen as the nationwide winners of the naming competition, with their names of Ebb and Flow. The students arrived at their name by researching what the GRAIL mission was studying and how it worked. They learned how important the Moon is to our lives on Earth, and how the Moon’s gravity causes our high and low tides. They decided on Ebb and Flow, because the names represent both the Moon’s gravity and its effects on our home.
Congratulations Emily Dickinson 4th-Graders! Not only did you come up with great contest-winning names, you came up with names that will forever exist in the historical pages of the world’s exploration of space!
For more about GRAIL, check out these links:
- The 365 Days of Astronomy podcast episode for January 20 has expanded information about the competition winners.
- The NASA Lunar Science Institute
- And both NASA’s and MIT’s Grail websites