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Moon Countdown: Hours until 1st NASA Probe Arrives

ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer
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The Moon enters a total eclipse as seen in Bangkok on December 10, 2011. The total eclipse of the Moon turned the lunar surface into a shade of red. (Photo credit: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Moon enters a total eclipse as seen in Bangkok on December 10, 2011. The total eclipse of the Moon turned the lunar surface into a shade of red. (Photo credit: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Revelers in Times Square and other places around the globe aren’t the only ones anticipating the new year.

NASA is counting down the seconds until its twin spacecraft make back-to-back arrivals at the moon over the New Year’s weekend to study lunar gravity.

If all goes well, the first probe called Grail-A will fire its engine to slip into orbit around the moon on New Year’s Eve. Its twin Grail-B will do the same on New Year’s Day.

Deep space antennas are monitoring their every move. The probes have been cruising toward their target since launching from Florida in September.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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