The site where twin NASA spacecraft
impacted the moon on Monday has been named in honor of the late Sally
Ebb and Flow, the two spacecraft
comprising NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)
mission, were commanded to descend into low orbit and impact on a
mountain near the moon's north pole. Ebb and Flow, which were
launched in September 2011 to orbit the moon, were running out of
fuel to continue their scientific missions.
“Sally was all about getting the job
done, whether it be in exploring space, inspiring the next
generation, or helping make the GRAIL mission the resounding success
it is today,” GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge said in a
statement. “As we complete our lunar mission, we are proud we can
honor Sally Ride's contributions by naming this corner of the moon
“Sally Ride worked tirelessly
throughout her life to remind all of us, especially girls, to keep
questioning and learning,” said Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski.
“Today her passion for making students part of NASA's science is
honored by naming the impact site for her.”
Ride, the first American woman in
space, passed away in July at the age of 61 after losing a prolonged
17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She also held the
distinction of being the youngest American in space and the first
lesbian, though she never spoke about her private life in public.
Among those listed as survivors in
Ride's obituary was Tam O'Shaughnessy, who became romantically
involved with Ride in 1985, just two years after she made history as
the first American female in space aboard the NASA space shuttle
Last month, Ride
was inducted into the GLBT Hall of Fame in Chicago.