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Maria Zuber
Picture of Maria Zuber
Maria Zuber
Geophysicist, E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Maria Zuber delivers the 41st annual Killian Award Lecture at MIT in 2013. Image Credit: MIT/Dominick Reuter

The GRAIL mission was headed by geophysicist Dr. Maria Zuber, an expert on planetary and space sciences. Maria has more than half a dozen NASA missions under her belt and decades of experience unraveling mysteries from Mercury to Mars and beyond.

Dr. Zuber was also the first woman to lead
a science department at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT).
Maria Zuber

The first woman to lead a robotic planetary mission for NASA, Maria was also the first woman to lead a science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Maria became interested in engineering and space sciences at an early age, thanks to a telescope she built with her grandfather. Using the telescope to spy on Venus and other celestial bodies, Maria began wondering how these distant planets and moons worked on the inside. Maria carried this interest with her all the way to the GRAIL mission.

GRAIL's goal was to create a detailed map of the moon's gravitational field and internal structure using measurements supplied by its twin spacecraft called Ebb and Flow. The data will also shed light on how the moon -- and the planets -- formed and evolved.

Maria teamed up with Dr. Sally Ride -- best known as the first American woman to fly in space -- to use GRAIL as a springboard for space sciences education for middle school students across the country. Ebb and Flow were armed with several cameras -- the first NASA imaging systems included expressly for an education and public outreach project -- that students used to snap pictures of the barren, cratered lunar surface, including the mysterious far side.

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Last Updated: 10 April 2015

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Last Updated: 10 Apr 2015