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See you on the dark side of the Moon*! NASA’s GRAIL mission has beamed back its first video of the far side of the moon. The imagery was taken on Jan. 19 by the MoonKAM aboard the mission’s “Ebb” spacecraft.
GRAIL consists of two identical spacecraft, recently named Ebb and Flow, each of which is equipped with a MoonKAM. The images were taken as part of a test of Ebb’s MoonKAM on Jan. 19. The GRAIL project plans to test the MoonKAM aboard Flow at a later date.
“The quality of the video is excellent and should energize our MoonKAM students as they prepare to explore the moon,” said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA.
Launched in September 2011, the twin spacecraft successfully achieved lunar orbit this past New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Previously named GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, the washing machine-sized spacecraft received their new names from fourth graders at the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, MT, following a nationwide student naming contest.
MoonKAM, or Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students, will be used by students nationwide to select lunar images for study.
Read more about GRAIL on the NASA site here.
*Of course as we all know, there is no dark side of the Moon. But it’s not “all dark”, as David Gilmour claimed… it has night and day all across it just like Earth. With the exception of some permanently-shadowed craters at the poles, all areas of the Moon receive sunlight at some point during its day.