NASA GRAIL returns first student-selected moon images

March 23, 2012 By DC Agle, Dwayne Brown and Caroline McCall
This image of the far side of the lunar surface, with Earth in the background, was taken by the MoonKAM system board the Ebb spacecraft as part of the first image set taken from lunar orbit from March 15 - 18, 2012. Credit: NASA/Caltech-JPL/MIT/SRS

(PhysOrg.com) -- One of two NASA 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, Mont., received the honor of making the first image selections by winning a nationwide competition to rename the two spacecraft.

The image was taken by the MoonKam, or Moon Knowledge Acquired by . Previously named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) A and B, the twin spacecraft are now called Ebb and Flow. Both washing-machine-sized orbiters carry a small MoonKAM camera. 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 may be worth a classroom full of engineering and science degrees," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL mission principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. "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."

How students take pictures from lunar orbit with GRAIL's MoonKAM (Infographic

GRAIL is NASA's first to carry instruments fully dedicated to education and public outreach. Students will select target areas on the lunar surface and request images to study from the GRAIL MoonKAM in San Diego.

The MoonKAM program is led 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. More than 2,700 schools spanning 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. "The really are excited about MoonKAM, and that translates into an excitement about science and engineering."

Launched in September 2011, Ebb and Flow will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

Explore further: NASA invites students to name moon-bound spacecraft

More information: To view the student-requested images, visit: images.moonkam.ucsd.edu

Related Stories

Twin Grail spacecraft reunite in lunar orbit

January 2, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- The second of NASA's two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft has successfully completed its planned main engine burn and is now in lunar orbit. Working together, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B ...

Students rename NASA moon probes Ebb and Flow

January 17, 2012

A pair of unmanned NASA spacecraft that are orbiting the Moon were renamed Ebb and Flow on Tuesday by a middle school class in Montana, the US space agency announced.

GRAIL returns first video from moon's far side

February 1, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- A camera aboard one of NASA's twin Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft has returned its first unique view of the far side of the moon. MoonKAM, or Moon Knowledge Acquired by ...

Twin Grail spacecraft begin collecting lunar science data

March 7, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft orbiting the moon officially have begun their science collection phase. During the next 84 days, scientists will obtain a high-resolution ...

Recommended for you

At Saturn, one of these rings is not like the others

September 2, 2015

When the sun set on Saturn's rings in August 2009, scientists on NASA's Cassini mission were watching closely. It was the equinox—one of two times in the Saturnian year when the sun illuminates the planet's enormous ring ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Comet Hitchhiker would take tour of small bodies

September 2, 2015

Catching a ride from one solar system body to another isn't easy. You have to figure out how to land your spacecraft safely and then get it on its way to the next destination. The landing part is especially tricky for asteroids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.