06 February 2012
Posted in Our Planet, Our Universe
The first video ever taken of the far side of the Moon was recorded by the twin GRAIL Probes, Ebb and Flow, and released on February 1, 2012. The GRAIL probes were launched aboard the Delta II rocket on September 10, 2011 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The only people to have seen the far side of the Moon have been the astronauts of the Apollo missions and robotic spacecraft. Why do we never see the other side of the Moon? The Moon is tidally locked with the earth; therefore the same side of the Moon always faces the earth.
The twin GRAIL probes are on a mission lead by Maria Zuber, the principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The purpose of the mission is to further explore the Moon’s gravity fields.
“My resolution of the new year is to unlock lunar mysteries and understand how the Moon, Earth and other rocky planets evolved,” Zuber said. Part of her resolution came true when Ebb (GRAIL-A), reached the moon’s orbit December 31, 2011 and Flow (GRAIL-B) reached it on January 1, 2012. “Now, with GRAIL-A successfully placed in orbit around the Moon, we are one step closer to achieving that goal,” Zuber said.
Zuber has been working to create a program geared toward school children in the fifth to eight grade. The GRAIL probes are equipped with a MoonKAM, Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students, a program designed to spark children’s interest in space and science in hopes some becoming scientists and engineers. The students will be able to direct the MoonKAM to take pictures of specific areas of the Moon. The image will then be sent directly back to each classroom giving students the great opportunity to study craters, highlands and future landing sites.
Teachers: if you are interested in signing up your class for the MoonKAM program, please visit www.Moonkam.ucsd.edu/register.
Here's a video from the mission...
Embedded video from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology