During the period stretching from December 2011 to 2012, NASA had two GRAIL satellites (Gravity Recovery & Interior Laboratory) circling the Moon. They sent back loads of data and images that helped understand the interior composition as well as its gravity.
This was not the attractions of the GRAIL MoonKAM though. It was the fact that this was NASA’s first fully educational outreach program in space with instruments for the purpose of educating Middle school students. MoonKAM stands for Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students and this is the brainchild of Dr. Sally Ride – the first American women to go into space. She along with a few undergrad students from the San Diego University of California founded the Sally Ride Science company that in turn established the MoonKAM program.
Naturally, NASA lapped the idea up and sent two satellites to the dark side of the moon. It took photographs as well during its mission and these were beamed to classrooms across the nation. For the first half of the mission, students got a chance to choose lunar surfaces for photography and the photos were then relayed back from the satellites thus helping study highlands, craters for possible future landing sites.
Once the mission finished, the satellites were hurled towards a specific mountain on the Moon’s northern pole, which NASA named Sally K. Ride Impact Site.
GRAILMoonKAM.com is dedicated to keeping the mission alive on the internet for future generations to come. Come meet Sally Ride and get to know her initiative close-up.