GRAIL Sends Back First Student-Requested Lunar Images
NASA said on Thursday that one of its twin Grail spacecrafts has returned the first student-requested picture of the moon.
Fourth grade students from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Montana received the honor of making the first image selections by winning a competition to rename the two spacecraft to Ebb and Flow.
The first image was taken by the MoonKAM, or Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students.
Over 60 student-requested images to be taken by the Ebb spacecraft from March 15 through 17, which were downlinked to Earth on March 20.
“MoonKAM is based on the premise that if your average picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture from lunar orbit may be worth a classroom full of engineering and science degrees,” Maria Zuber, GRAIL mission principal investigator, said in a press release. “Through MoonKAM, we have an opportunity to reach out to the next generation of scientists and engineers. It is great to see things off to such a positive start.”
The twin spacecraft mission is NASA’s first planetary mission to carry instruments fully dedicated to education and public outreach.
Students will be able to select target areas on the lunar surface and request images to study from the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission Operations Center in Sand Diego.
The program is being led by Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space, and her team at Sally Ride Science.
NASA said that over 2,700 schools in 52 countries are using the MoonKAM cameras.
“What might seem like just a cool activity for these kids may very well have a profound impact on their futures,” Ride said in a press release. “The students really are excited about MoonKAM, and that translates into an excitement about science and engineering.”
Image 1: This image of the far side of the lunar surface, with Earth in the background, was taken by the MoonKAM system onboard the Ebb spacecraft as part of the first image set taken from lunar orbit from March 15 — 18, 2012. Image credit: NASA/Caltech-JPL/MIT/SRS
Image 2: This image of the lunar surface was taken by the MoonKAM system onboard the Ebb spacecraft on March 15, 2012. Image credit: NASA/Caltech-JPL/MIT/SRS
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