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Pictures | Thu Dec 13, 2012 | 8:43pm EST

NASA moon-mapping mission to come to a crashing end

An artist's rendering of twin GRAIL spacecraft in orbit around the moon is shown in a NASA handout received by Reuters January 17, 2012. Reuters/NASA/Handout

An artist's rendering of twin GRAIL spacecraft in orbit around the moon is shown in a NASA handout received by Reuters January 17, 2012. Reuters/NASA/Handout

An artist's rendering of twin GRAIL spacecraft in orbit around the moon is shown in a NASA handout received by Reuters January 17, 2012. Reuters/NASA/Handout
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NASA handout image shows an artist's concept of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission's twin spacecraft in orbit around the moon. The GRAIL mission will fly the spacecraft, in the same orbit, over areas of greater and lesser gravity, caused both by visible features such as mountains and craters and by masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, they will move slightly toward and away from each other. The twin GRAIL spacecraft will make suicidal plunges December 17, 2012 into a mountain near the moon's north pole,after a successful year-long mission to learn what lies beneath the lunar surface, officials said on December 13. REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Handout

NASA handout image shows an artist's concept of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission's twin spacecraft in orbit around the moon. The GRAIL mission will fly the spacecraft, in the same orbit, over areas of greater and lesser...more

NASA handout image shows an artist's concept of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission's twin spacecraft in orbit around the moon. The GRAIL mission will fly the spacecraft, in the same orbit, over areas of greater and lesser gravity, caused both by visible features such as mountains and craters and by masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, they will move slightly toward and away from each other. The twin GRAIL spacecraft will make suicidal plunges December 17, 2012 into a mountain near the moon's north pole,after a successful year-long mission to learn what lies beneath the lunar surface, officials said on December 13. REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Handout
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