NASA probes to arrive at the moon over New Year’s

The New Year’s countdown to the moon has begun.

NASA said Wednesday that its twin spacecraft were on course to arrive back-to-back at the moon after a 3½-month journey.

“We’re on our way there,” said project manager David Lehman of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $496 million mission.

The Grail probes — short for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory — won’t land on the lunar surface. Instead, they were poised to slip into orbit to study the uneven lunar gravity field.

Grail-A was scheduled to arrive on New Year’s Eve, followed by Grail-B on New Year’s Day.

Lehman said team members won’t celebrate until both probes are safely in orbit.

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