March 23, 2012

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Little Cameras for Little People

image from GRAIL MoonKAM

A new lunar orbiter is now providing images for school kids. And the rest of us can see them too. Here are three examples from 60 images requested by kids at Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Montana. Each of the two GRAIL gravity-measuring spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, has three 6 mm focal length cameras and one 50 mm one. Because the spacecraft fly close to the lunar surface - 38 to 64 km elevation for most of these images - these small camera can provide pleasing views. On each spacecraft one of the cameras points ahead and another behind the spacecraft - similar to Kaguya - giving out-the-porthole perspectives. One of the images here even captured the Earth over a lunar horizon. All of the images released thus far appear to have been processed with a quantization that reduces the tonal variation, resulting in tonal smoothing. But for the kids who request that GRAIL image their areas of interest these images will be personal treasures that, according to Maria Zuber, GRAIL mission principal investigator, may have a major effect: a picture from lunar orbit may be worth a classroom full of engineering and science degrees...

Chuck Wood

Yesterday's LPOD: Two-Fer

Tomorrow's LPOD: The History of Lunar Cratering


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