As the video begins, the vast impact basin of Mare Orientale — which is 560 miles (900 kilometers) wide and straddles the near and far sides, is clearly visible in the lower third of the frame, according to a NASA description. To the left of the middle is the Drygalski crater, a 93-mile-wide (149 kilometer) basin that stands out because of the star-shaped formation in its center.
While NASA released the lunar far side video today, it was actually recorded Jan. 19 by one of the Grail probes, which are now called Ebb and Flow. The Grail mission's name stands for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory. Both spacecraft are equipped with their own MoonKAM (or Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) cameras.
The MoonKAM project is an effort led by former astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, to encourage student interest in science. It is the first set of cameras ever to fly on a NASA planetary probe that is completely dedicated to education and public outreach.
Under the program, thousands of students between fourth and eighth grade will be able to request targets on the moon to be photographed by the Grail probes via an operations center based in San Diego, Calif. Once the photos are taken, they will be sent to the students for further study, NASA officials said.
"We have had great response from schools around the country; more than 2,500 signed up to participate so far," Ride said, adding that the first moon photos taken by students will be recorded in mid-March. "I expect this will excite many students about possible careers in science and engineering."