Friday, March 23, 2012

The first student-requested pictures from GRAIL

Orbiting 50 kilometers over the farside, the MoonKAM camera on-board the GRAIL twin spacecraft "Ebb" captured the subtle colors of the lunar highlands at the behest of Emily Dickinson Middle School, Bozeman, Montana on March 15, 2012. The 31 kilometer-wide crater in the northeast quadrant is Gadomski A (38.3°N, 213.5°E). For comparison, both LROC WAC and NAC images of the same area are presented further below. Ebb MoonKam IMAGE 84, HERE [NASA/JPL/MIT/MoonKAM].
NASA JPL: One of the two NASA GRAIL spacecraft orbiting the Moon has beamed back the first student-requested pictures of the lunar surface from its onboard camera. Fourth grade students from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Montana, received the honor of making the first image selections after winning the nationwide competition to rename the two spacecraft, "Ebb" and "Flow."

The images was taken by the MoonKAM, for "Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students."

Previously named "A" and "B," the twin Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft are washing-machine-sized each equipped with small MoonKAM cameras. Over 60 student–requested images were taken by the Ebb spacecraft from March 15-17 and downlinked to Earth 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," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL mission principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"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," Zuber said.

Read the full news release

For comparison with MoonKAM "IMAGE 84," above, here is a segment from a LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC) monochrome (604nm) mosaic of Gadomski A, stitched from sequential orbital passes, May 7, 2010; incidence angle 53° - 64.4 meters resolution from 46.3 km. The yellow arrow designates the 300 meter crater on the south rim visible in both the MoonKAM image above and in the LROC NAC high-resolution image below [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
A worn 300 meter-wide crater (37.78°N,  213.56°E), high on the south rim of Gadomski A, in a quick comparative study at native resolution with that of MoonKAM IMAGE 84, among the first returned to Earth from the GRAIL mission in low lunar orbit. - LROC NAC frame M136144934L, orbit 5197, August 11, 2011; resolution 0.65 meters per pixel from 63.32 kilometers [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
To view the student-requested images, visit:

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