Just as the world welcomed 2012, NASA revealed its ambitious mission of studying and exploring the moon in a way, which was never done before. Last month, just when NASA revealed its plans, it also stated that the second of its two identical, GRAIL spacecrafts – Ebb and Flow had set out to join the first one in the GRAIL, or the Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory mission. Both GRAIL spacecrafts have a MoonKAM camera aboard, which would be an indispensible tool for the success of their mission; and it sure has been. An official NASA statement confirms that the MoonKAM aboard the Ebb spacecraft has returned, with what is the first, unique view of the far side of the Moon, giving the world a glimpse into the mysterious satellite.
A closer view of the elusive satellite
For the world to see, NASA has put up a 30-second long video, which can be viewed here. In the video, as the spacecraft flies towards the lunar south pole, a glimpse of moon's north pole can be caught. The statement further states, “One of the first prominent geological features seen on the lower third of the moon is the Mare Orientale, a 560-mile-wide (900 kilometer) impact basin that straddles both the moon's near and far side.” As the clip reaches its final seconds, viewers are treated to a visual showing a rugged terrain near the lunar south pole. Then, moving on, to the left of the center, which is essentially in the bottom of the screen, viewers can spot the 93-mile-wide (149 kilometer) Drygalski crater, which can be distinguished by the star-shaped formation in the centre.
The GRAIL mission is certainly of crucial importance. While on one hand, the images and research material will reveal all that has remained hidden from mankind about the most elusive satellite, it will also prove to be the basis of an in-depth research conducted side-by-side by thousands of fourth- to eighth-grade students, who're now also a part of the MoonKAM mission. The mission, as elaborated on in our previous report, a project by Sally Ride, America's first woman in space and her team at Sally Ride Science in collaboration with undergraduate students at the University of California in San Diego aims to further education. As a part of their research, the students will select their target areas on the moon's surface and send these requests to the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission Operations Center in San Diego. The center will then send the respective images back to the students via satellite.
To know more on the GRAIL mission, click here.
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