A gravity-mapping spacecraft orbiting the moon has beamed home its first video of the lunar far side — a view people on Earth never see.
The new video was captured by one of NASA's twin Grail probes using a novel camera called MoonKAM, which will eventually be used by students on Earth to snap photos of the lunar surface as part of an educational project. The two spacecraft have been circling the moon since they arrived in orbit over the New Year.
Maria Zuber, Grail principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, in a statement accompanying the video's release today said (Feb. 1).
"The quality of the video is excellent and should energize our MoonKAM students as they prepare to explore the moon."
Because the moon is tidally locked with Earth, it only presents one face to the planet's surface (the near side). The side of the moon that faces away from Earth is the far side. Only robotic spacecraft and Apollo astronauts who orbited the moon in the 1960s and 1970s have seen the far side of the moon directly. [New photo and video of the moon's far side]
The new video is about 30 seconds long and shows the far side of the moon as a stark, scarred landscape. Dozens of craters are visible in the field of view.
As the video begins, the vast impact basin of Mare Orientale — which is 560 miles (900 kilometers) wide and straddles the near and far sides, is clearly visible in the lower third of the frame, according to a NASA description. To the left of the middle is the Drygalski crater, a 93-mile-wide (149 kilometer) basin that stands out because of the star-shaped formation in its center.
While NASA released the lunar far side video today, it was actually recorded Jan. 19 by one of the Grail probes, which are now called Ebb and Flow. The Grail mission's name stands for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory. Both spacecraft are equipped with their own MoonKAM (or Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) cameras.
The MoonKAM project is an effort led by former astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, to encourage student interest in science. It is the first set of cameras ever to fly on a NASA planetary probe that is completely dedicated to education and public outreach.
Under the program, thousands of students between fourth and eighth grade will be able to request targets on the moon to be photographed by the Grail probes via an operations center based in San Diego, Calif. Once the photos are taken, they will be sent to the students for further study, NASA officials said.
Ride said, adding that the first moon photos taken by students will be recorded in mid-March
"We have had great response from schools around the country; more than 2,500 signed up to participate so far. I expect this will excite many students about possible careers in science and engineering."
NASA launched the $496 million Grail mission in September 2011 on a tag-team mission to map the moon's gravity field like never before. The two washing machine-size spacecraft are currently lowering their orbits around the moon and will eventually begin the science phase of their mission once they reach a target altitude of just 34 miles (55 kilometers) above the lunar surface.
Grail mission scientists will use minute changes in the positions of the lunar orbiters as they fly in tandem to map variations in the moon's gravitational field.
NASA Announces Names of GRAIL Moon Gravity Mission Twin Probes
NASA's twin gravity-mapping moon probes received their names on January 17, 2012, reflecting their mission to study the changing pull of Earth's natural satellite.
Now to be called "Ebb" and "Flow," the tandem Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (or Grail) spacecraft arrived in lunar orbit over the New Year weekend and were previously referred to simply as "A" and "B". Their new names were offered by fourth grade students in Bozeman, Mont., who were chosen as the winners of NASA's naming contest.
Maria Zuber, who as principal investigator leads the Grail probes' mission from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said.
"The 28 students of Ms. Nina DiMauro's class at Emily Dickinson Elementary School have really hit the nail on the head. We were really impressed that the students drew their inspiration by researching Grail and its goal of measuring gravity."
"Ebb and Flow truly capture the spirit and excitement of our mission."
NASA announced the new names in a press conference on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.
Last Manned Space Mission and Landing On The Moon
Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned space mission in NASA's Apollo space program. Launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on December 7, 1972, with a three-member crew consisting of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmidt, Apollo 17 remains the last manned Moon landing.
The Reason Why NASA Has Not Returned Astronauts To The Moon
It's very strange that NASA ended all manned space missions to the Moon since Apollo 17. You would've thought by now that the U.S. would have a permanent space colony on the Moon and we would be ferrying tourist flights to the Moon and back. The lack of an atmosphere would make the Moon an excellent jumpoff point to other planets. According to a few former NASA employees, there's a good reason why we've never been back to the moon.
The reason why NASA hasn't sent manned space missions to the Moon, or established bases there, is because the moon's swarming with unfriendly extraterrestrial life forms who have warned us not to land there. It's even been alleged in NASA photographs taken by Moon orbiting satellites that massive alien bases and structures exist on the moon. EnigmaTV produced a video titled "The Truth -- Why NASA Has Never Returned To The Moon," which sheds some light on this subject.
The Truth - Why NASA Has Never Returned To The Moon - Part 1:
The Truth - Why NASA Has Never Returned To The Moon - Part 2:
The following video is a photo compilation of the anomalies on the lunar surface including an alien spacecraft, and alledged extraterrestrial biological entity known as "Mona Lisa" found inside the alien craft, purported alien bases and ufo's leaving its surface.
"What NASA did not tell the American people is that it discovered the remains of an ancient lunar civilization, and to this day, that data and those artifacts have been withheld from the American people."
The Hollow Moon Theory or The Moon Is An Artificial Object
Another interesting theory is that the moon is hallow. A few scientists have even suggested that the moon's an artificial object:
- Carl Sagan, the late astrophysics and cosmologist said, "A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object." But meaning here that if it is hollow, it is not a natural satellite -- and therefore artificial.
- Two members of the Soviet Academy of Science, former Soviet scientists, Mikhail Vasin and Alexander Shcherbakov, have theorized that the moon is a huge, hollowed-out planetoid that was sent into orbit around our world billions of years ago. They believe that the moon was hollowed out artificially, which means that it was done by some intelligence.
- Possibly the strongest evidence for it to be a 'hollow object' comes from the fact that when meteors strike the Moon, the latter rings like a bell. More specifically when the Apollo crew in November 20, 1969 released the lunar module, after returning to the orbiter, the module impact with the Moon caused their seismic equipment to register a continuous reverberation like a bell for more than an hour. The same effect occurred with Apollo 13's third stage which caused the Moon to ring for over three hours. So what's going on with the Moon?
NASA's GRAIL Moon Gravity Mission will measure the Moon's magnetic field. This could shed some light on whether the moon is a solid planetary object like our Earth, a hollowed out planetary object, or an artificial hollow object.
NASA - Some Unanswered Questions
After nearly 40 years, why is NASA returning to the Moon? They say GRAIL's mission is to measure the Moon's magnetic field, but is it for another reason? Will NASA release copies of all the photos taken by the GRAIL Moon Gravity Mission? Will those photos be unaltered? NASA has often "touched" up photos to hide anomolies located on the Moon that resemble intelligently-made towers, buildings, bridges, domes and bases of unknown origin. Will NASA release their actual magnetic field findings to the scientific community? Is this a prelude to a major extra-terrestrial disclosure? Will NASA use this opportunity to finally disclose the existence of alien extra-terrestrial bases on the Moon? How would you handle this news? The Vatican wants to know how the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial beings could affect the teachings of the Catholic Church, so in late 2010, they met with NASA scientists to discuss the subject of extraterrestrials.