NASA News: NASA Spacecraft Returns First Video from Far Side Of The Moon

WASHINGTON -- A camera aboard one of NASA's twin Gravity Recovery And
Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft has returned its first
unique view of the far side of the moon. MoonKAM, or Moon Knowledge
Acquired by Middle school students, will be used by students
nationwide to select lunar images for study.

GRAIL consists of two identical spacecraft, recently named Ebb and
Flow, each of which is equipped with a MoonKam. The images were taken
as part of a test of Ebb's MoonKam on Jan. 19. The GRAIL project
plans to test the MoonKAM aboard Flow at a later date.

To view the 30-second video clip, visit:


In the video, the north pole of the moon is visible at the top of the
screen as the spacecraft flies toward the lunar south pole. One of
the first prominent geological features seen on the lower third of
the moon is the Mare Orientale, a 560 mile-wide (900 kilometer)
impact basin that straddles both the moon's near and far side.

The clip ends with rugged terrain just short of the lunar south pole.
To the left of center, near the bottom of the screen, is the 93
mile-wide (149 kilometer) Drygalski crater with a distinctive
star-shaped formation in the middle. The formation is a central peak,
created many billions of years ago by a comet or asteroid impact.

"The quality of the video is excellent and should energize our MoonKAM
students as they prepare to explore the moon," said Maria Zuber,
GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology in Cambridge.

The twin spacecraft successfully achieved lunar orbit last New Year's
Eve and New Year's Day. Previously named GRAIL-A and -B, the washing
machine-sized spacecraft received their new names from fourth graders
at the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., following
a nationwide student-naming contest.

Thousands of fourth- to eighth-grade students will select target areas
on the lunar surface and send requests to the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission
Operations Center in San Diego. Photos of the target areas will be
sent back by the satellites for students to study. The MoonKAM
program is led by Sally Ride, America's first woman in space. Her
team at Sally Ride Science and undergraduate students at the
University of California in San Diego will engage middle schools
across the country in the GRAIL mission and lunar exploration. GRAIL
is NASA's first planetary mission carrying instruments fully
dedicated to education and public outreach.

"We have had great response from schools around the country, more than
2,500 signed up to participate so far," Ride said. "In mid-March, the
first pictures of the moon will be taken by students using MoonKAM. I
expect this will excite many students about possible careers in
science and engineering."

Launched in September 2011, Ebb and Flow periodically perform
trajectory correction maneuvers that, over time, will lower their
orbits to near-circular ones with an altitude of about 34 miles (55
kilometers). During their science mission, the duo will answer
longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better
understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar
system formed.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the
GRAIL mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
The GRAIL mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin
Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

For more information about GRAIL, visit:


Information about MoonKAM is available at:



NASA Receives Final NRC Report On Space Technology Roadmaps

WASHINGTON -- NASA has received the National Research Council (NRC)
report "NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities," which
provides the agency with findings and recommendations on where best
to invest in technologies needed to enable NASA's future missions in
space. The NRC report will help define NASA's technology development
priorities in the years to come.

One year ago, NASA provided 14 draft space technology area roadmaps to
the NRC and asked the council to examine and prioritize technologies
for the agency. The technologies were prioritized in each of the 14
areas and then across all categories.

The report finalizes the NRC's review and identifies 16 top-priority
technologies necessary for NASA's future missions, which also could
benefit American aerospace industries and the nation. The 16 were
chosen by the NRC from its own ranking of 83 high-priority
technologies out of approximately 300 identified in the roadmaps.

"The report strongly reaffirms the vital importance of technology
development to enable the agency's future missions and grow the
nation's new technology economy," said Mason Peck, chief technologist
at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The report confirms the value of
our technology development strategy to date. NASA currently invests
in all of the highest-priority technologies and will study the report
and adjust its investment portfolio as needed."

The technology priorities the report identifies are aligned with NASA
missions to extend and sustain human activities beyond low Earth
orbit, explore the evolution of the solar system and the potential
for life elsewhere, and expand our un¬derstanding of Earth and the
universe in which we live.

The report observes that "technological breakthroughs have been the
foundation of virtually every NASA success. In addition,
technological advances have yielded benefits far beyond space itself
in down-to-Earth applications." It also states "future U.S.
leadership in space requires a foundation of sustained technology advances."

During the coming months, NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist will
lead an agency-wide analysis and coordination effort to update the 14
technology area roadmaps with the NRC report's findings and

To review a copy of the report, visit:


For more information about NASA's Space Technology Program, visit:



NASA Glenn To Host Tweetup Celebrating 50th Anniversary Of First American To Orbit Earth

CLEVELAND -- NASA's Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland will host
a special event on March 2 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of John
Glenn's first orbital flight by an American. NASA also will invite
100 people for a behind-the-scenes Tweetup at GRC in advance of the
celebration event.

The Tweetup activities begin at 7:30 a.m. EST with a tour of Glenn's
world-class flight research and ground test facilities that support
aeronautics and space exploration. Participants will speak with
scientists and engineers about technologies being investigated and developed.

Following the tours, the Tweetup will move to downtown Cleveland for
the Glenn tribute event. "Celebrating John Glenn's Legacy: 50 years
of Americans in Orbit," will be held at 1 p.m. at Cleveland State
University's Wolstein Center. The program will include a video
tribute and remarks by Glenn and agency and political officials.

Tweetup participants also will meet astronaut Greg "Box" Johnson and
other special guests.

On March 1, 1999, the Lewis Research Center was officially renamed the
NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in recognition of
Glenn's contributions to science, space and the State of Ohio. As one
of the original seven Mercury astronauts, Glenn trained in 1960 at
Lewis in the Multiple Axis Space Test Inertia Facility.

Today, the center's research and technology development work focuses
on air-breathing propulsion; communications; in-space propulsion and
cryogenic fluids management; power, energy storage and conversion;
materials and structures for extreme environments; and physical
sciences and biomedical technologies in space.

Tweetup registration opens at noon on Friday, Feb. 3, and closes at
noon on Monday, Feb. 6. NASA will select 100 total participants,
including Twitter followers and their guests, by lottery from those
who register online. Because Glenn is a government facility with
restricted access, the event is open only to U.S. citizens and legal
permanent residents.

For more NASA Tweetup information and to sign up, visit:


To follow Johnson on Twitter, visit:


For more information about John Glenn, visit:


For more information about NASA's Glenn Research Center, visit:



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