Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Fly me to the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

14-01-2013 18:31 CST

Topics: pretty pictures, podcasts and videos, the Moon, GRAIL

I've been remiss in not posting this video before. It's an absolutely wonderful view -- two views, actually -- shot from two spaceships just days before they crashed onto the Moon. At an altitude of 10 kilometers, the GRAIL spacecraft were flying no higher above the lunar surface than humans routinely fly over Earth on commercial jets.

The videos were shot by GRAIL's MoonKAMs, two tiny cameras whose sole function was education and public outreach (a phrase that an acronym-happy NASA always shortens to "EPO"). While active, they had a primarily education function; classrooms of fifth- to eighth-grade students could apply for the opportunity to select targets for MoonKAM, and thousands of kids participated. But these videos are decidedly on the public outreach end of things. I challenge anyone to watch that video and not, for a moment at least, imagine themselves in the ship, flying over the Moon.

See other posts from January 2013


Or read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, podcasts and videos, the Moon, GRAIL


Gary Ray Rogers: 01/14/2013 07:47 CST

It looks like a French noir movie. And if you anthropomorphize the little Grails you can hear them talking. *in French spoken very slowly* "The moon approaches so swiftly. Merde".

Anonymous: 01/14/2013 09:03 CST

Hi Emily all those holes you see in the videos --will all have a rock or fragment of rock at the bottom ? couldnt we dig a few up? if the moon is fractured and covered in dust wouldnt a solid dense rock show up on a sonar type ping,or are they buried so deep it doesnt make sense to dig em up ? either way all i want to do when i see those videos is get me spade and start digging :-)

Michael Peters: 01/15/2013 06:16 CST

Here is a slowed down version of this video. I thought the original was utterly mindblowing but too small and too fast. And too silent - for anyone who watched the movie 2001 with open-mouthed awe in their youth, these images need Ligeti's Lux Aeterna as a soundtrack. I took the quiet opening chords and slowed them down too.

Emily Lakdawalla: 01/15/2013 11:08 CST

@Michael: The first thing I said when Casey sent me a link to this video was "needs music." Thanks! @Anonymous: the "holes" are impact craters. The impactor would have mostly vaporized upon impact. All of the Moon's crust is made of fairly dense rock -- no need to dig :)

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


Featured Images

LightSail 2 and Prox-1
Bill Nye at LightSail 2 pre-ship review
LightSail 2 pre-ship review team photo
Swirling maelstrom
More Images

Featured Video

Class 9: Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!