Category Archives: GRAIL

#GRAIL #NASATweetup Part I

I’m back, and it hardly seems fair that over a week has transpired since I left Florida and Kennedy Space Center. This is the first of several posts that will be a photo travelogue of my adventures during the #GRAIL #NASATweetup (for some background info about the NASATweetup and my participation, go here). My traveling companion is Gnoome, the stuffed (or plush, if you prefer) Moon. He is a traveling gnome wanna-be, hence, his name (which, pronounced in reverse is the object of the GRAIL mission).

If you want details of the science and rocketry (which are really pretty amazing), you should check out the references page on the wiki that I helped to administrate for our tweetup group. NASA does a wonderful job explaining the mission and, frankly, I couldn’t do it better.

The #GRAIL #NASATweetup was scheduled to begin on the morning of September 7, 2011. In order to arrive in time (and pick up my credentials early), I left at 2:30 AM on Tuesday, September 6th.

Gnoome and I headed out in the dark of night, armed with snack food, map, and plenty of coffee for the 10+ hour drive.

Our trip progressed quite well. No other travelers in the car, so we could just keep moving along (read: no extra long rest stops, food stops, etc). Before we knew it, we were in Florida. It's hard to tell from this photo, but it was actually raining. An ironic greeting to the Sunshine State!

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GRAIL NASATweetup Group Photo

This is the group photo for our #GRAIL #NASATweetup. It was supposed to be taken out in the Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center, BUT there was a torrential rainstorm at the time scheduled for the photo shoot, so it was shot in the lobby of the Debus Center. We still haven’t seen the launch yet (the Thur launch windows were scrubbed due to high upper winds and Friday’s opportunity was also scrubbed). Can you find me?

Link to larger image.

If you poke around the NASAHQphoto photostream, you’ll see some other photos of the GRAIL launch.

My iPhone pics of the #GRAIL #NASATweetup are here. My “real” pictures haven’t been edited and uploaded yet, but I’ll let you know when they are!

NASA GRAIL mission resources

Resources about the NASA GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Recovery) Mission which is the focus of the NASATweetup I’ll be attending Sept 7 & 8.

Official NASA site for GRAIL mission
Another NASA site for GRAIL mission
GRAIL Mission Website
SLC17 info (launch site for GRAIL)
Delta II Rocket info
More info about the Delta II rocket getting GRAIL to Earth’s Moon
GRAIL Mission Fact Sheet
GRAIL Education Outreach (Sally Ride)

#GRAIL #NASATweetup!!

Last Wednesday night (while sitting at dinner for BrickFair in DC) I received one of the best emails I have ever read:

Dear Karyn Traphagen,

Congratulations! You have been selected to attend the NASA Tweetup on Sept. 7-8 in conjunction with the launch of the twin GRAIL spacecraft!

The two-day event will provide you the opportunity to tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex; speak with scientists and engineers from GRAIL and other upcoming missions; and, if all goes as scheduled, view the spacecraft launch. The launch window opens at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Sept. 8.

I am so very excited!! Here’s some of the details about the Tweetup. I’ll be posting info about the mission, the tweetup, and my adventures here and on Twitter (@ktraphagen).

NASA will bring together 150 Twitter followers to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for a two-day Tweetup, Sept. 7 – 8, 2011, for the launch of twin lunar-bound Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window opens at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 8. The two GRAIL spacecraft will measure the moon’s gravity field from its crust to core and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

As NASA Tweetup attendees, the 150 Twitter users will interact with engineers and scientists from GRAIL and other upcoming NASA missions as well as tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. If all goes as scheduled, participants will view the spacecraft launch. In addition, the Tweetup will allow participants to meet other tweeps and members of NASA’s social media team. Attendees were selected through a lottery system in which more than 825 @NASA Twitter followers registered.

NASA Tweetup participants are traveling from across the United States and the globe to attend. View the list of list of registered attendees on the NASA Tweetup Twitter account here.

NASA held its first Tweetup on Jan. 21, 2009, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. NASA’s Tweetup Twitter account is and participants will be using #NASATweetup and #GRAIL in their updates while tweeting. Information about NASA Tweetup can be viewed here.

About the GRAIL Mission

The two GRAIL spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field from crust to core. The mission will answer longstanding questions about Earth’s moon and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

GRAIL’s lift off is the third of four space missions launching this year under the management of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Aquarius launched June 10 to study ocean salinity; Juno will launched Aug. 5 to study the origins and interior of Jupiter; and the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover heads to the Red Planet no earlier than Nov. 25. Visit for additional information about GRAIL.