While we're all celebrating the new year this weekend, a team of NASA scientists will be busy with exciting plans of their own. They'll be monitoring a pair of spacecraft orbiting the moon, designed to answer some age-old questions. It's being described as the biggest moon mission since man first landed there in 1969.
Millions of years ago, earth may have had not one, but two moons. Then, according to theory, they collided, an event known as "the big splat." That would explain the irregularities on the surface of the present day moon, all the valleys on the side we see, all the mountains on the other side.
"Scientists have not had a good way to track that down yet. This is the beginning of solving that mystery."
"Lift-off of the Delta 2 with GRAIL, journey to the center of the moon"
In September, NASA launched a pair of twin lunar probes aboard the same rocket. They'll chase each other in orbit around the moon to study it from surface to center.
"The mission will be run from this control room at the jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena. A critical point comes this weekend when the two spacecraft, fire their maneuvering rockets to get into orbit around the moon.
"This is the big crunch time. This is gonna be the time where it all comes together or falls apart."
"That's one small step for a man..."
For NASA, it'll be the most intense focus on the moon since the days of the Apollo program. "It's very challenging, but we've done lots of practicing and we're ready to do this."
Former astronaut Sally Ride will be organizing thousands of middle school students to tell NASA what pictures the spacecraft should take with their on-board cameras.
"Hopefully, it'll encourage more kids to get involved in science and engineering."
So this weekend, while millions are watching that new year's ball drop in times square, NASA scientists will be watching that other illuminated ball that holds so many mysteries.