For many years “The Dark Side of the Moon” was just a really cool album for Pink Floyd fans to enjoy. Now, because of NASA’s twin GRAIL lunar spacecraft, the dark side of the moon can be enjoyed by all. Recently, NASA released the first images and video from the dark side of the moon.
The GRAIL mission consists of two identical spacecraft equipped with a MoonKam (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students). The mission seeks to involve middle school students and will allow them to pick the areas of the moon they would like to study. Recently, the twin craft were given the names “Ebb” and “Flow” by a group of fourth graders from Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., after they won a nationwide naming contest. On January 19th, NASA tested the MoonKAM on “Ebb” and brought back some spectacular pictures.
In the image below, you can see the south pole of the far side of the moon. You can see that it is riddled with impact craters covering its surface.
Toward the bottom of the image above, you will see an impact crater with a star-like feature in the middle. This is Drygalski’s crater and is about 93 miles wide. This feature is thought to be created billions of years ago by a comet or asteroid impact.
NASA also produced this very short video clip that gives you a quick North to South glance at the dark side of the moon.
This is an exciting opportunity for middle school students to be engaged in a mission first hand. Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, is leading the MoonKAM project along with undergraduate students at the University of California in San Diego. Middle school students will actually be the ones controlling the cameras on the GRAIL mission. The purpose of this mission is both for education and public outreach. Engaging young ones hopefully will ensure interest in the space program for years to come.
If you are a teacher and would like to engage your classroom in this program visit https://moonkam.ucsd.edu/home for more information. You can also find out more about the GRAIL mission by visiting http://www.nasa.gov/grail. Of course, we at Techie Buzz will do our best to keep you up to date as well. For the best of science, visit http://techie-buzz.com/science.