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GRAIL: Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory
Biography -- Sally Ride

Sally Ride

Sally Ride
Sally Ride. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Lawson Photography

Education and Public Outreach Lead

Dr. Sally Ride-best known as the first American woman to fly in space-headed MoonKAM, the public-outreach part of the GRAIL mission, until her death in July 2012. The first program of its kind, MoonKAM allows middle school students across the country to use cameras aboard the twin GRAIL spacecraft -- Ebb and Flow -- to snap detailed photographs of the lunar surface.

Sally recognized that MoonKAM could spark students' interest not only in the Moon but also in the wonders of science in general. She hoped MoonKAM would motivate students to learn more science and math, and to envision themselves planning and preparing for a science mission such as GRAIL. Sally's own love of science was sparked when she was a young girl. Then it really took off after her parents gave her a small telescope to look at the Moon. Fascinated by what she saw, Sally stuck with her interest in science and went on to study physics at Stanford University.

Sally's love for science paid off. In 1983, Sally launched into history as NASA's youngest -- and first female --astronaut to fly in space. She served as a mission specialist on two NASA spaceflights. One of her jobs was to control the space shuttle's robot arm, which she helped design. In 1989, Sally became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.

Sally started her own company, Sally Ride Science, with a focus on inspiring young people -- especially girls -- to stick with their interests in science and to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. The company carries on Sally's legacy of creating innovative classroom programs, classroom materials, and professional development programs for fourth- through eighth-grade teachers and their students.

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Last Updated: 23 Aug 2012