If this were a real horror movie, and not that exercise in plot procrastination that was Apollo 18, then this would be the video holding all the evidence of extraterrestrial life, or, should I say, our new alien god monsters. But instead, all we have are stunning images of the Moon’s surface in a way that we’ve never seen before. So I guess I can let some dust accumulate on my alien god monster shrines for a little while longer.
NASA’s Grail (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) mission was a pair of spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, that circled the Moon and collected detailed lunar gravity measurements for most of 2012, before intentionally crash-landing in December 2012. On December 14th, days prior to nosing into the lunar north pole, the Ebb spacecraft captured the video below, of a brief flyover in the vicinity of the Jackson impact crater, just six miles above the Moon’s surface on the far side. The video is actually comprised of 2,400 individual frames that the scientists had to piece together to make the two videos edited together here.
Without any basis of comparison, it feels like I’m unabashedly staring agog at something created completely within a computer program. Rarely do two minutes of silent moonscape cross my eyes like that. Or never, rather. The insanely large number of tiny craters and pock marks reminds of me of when some people shave their head for the first time, and it’s just a mess up there. I’d like to see Earth without all its bells and whistles and see how it shapes up.
The stills were taken using cameras from MoonKAM, the Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students, a public outreach program which allowed school children to choose the lunar sites where Ebb and Flow photographed. The program was led by Sally Ride Science, founded by the famed first woman in space, Sally Ride, who was in charge of the project prior to her death in July 2012. The crash site where Ebb and Flow met their demise is named for Sally.
Geez, I hate to end such a cool story on a down beat like that. So here’s a joke. How can you tell when the Moon is full? When it tells you to get those fucking french fries out of its face. I may have told that wrong. Watch the video again and be amazed.