Ebb and Flow, the twin spacecraft in NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) program, are working together to create a high-resolution map of the moon's gravitational fields — but another element of their mission is starting to bear fruit. The spacecraft are also part of MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students), which captured footage from the far side of Earth's orbital neighbor as part of its first test on January 19th. MoonKAM is a program that will allow US students to target particular areas of the lunar surface for study. Their requests are sent to the MoonKAM Operations Center in San Diego; Ebb and Flow will then capture the requested imagery and send it back via satellite for them to view here on Earth. More the 2,500 students have signed up to participate in the program thus far.
The test footage — captured by Ebb — contains clear views of the Mare Orientale, an impact basin 560 miles wide, as well as the Drygalski crater, a formation 93 miles in width that was likely created by the impact of a comet or asteroid on the lunar surface billions of years ago. Flow's camera is scheduled to be tested at a later date. As for the students that have signed up to participate in MoonKAM, they won't have to wait too long before getting a look themselves: student participation is planned to go live mid-March.