Moon Imagery (Moon Imagery) - 08.15.18

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
If a spacecraft loses communication with the ground or with NASA’s Deep Space Network, its crew must navigate just as ancient mariners did, using the moon and stars. The Moon Imagery investigation collects pictures of the moon from the International Space Station (ISS), which are then used to calibrate navigation software to guide the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle in case its transponder-based navigation capability is lost. Crew members photograph the moon’s phases during one 29-day cycle, providing images of varying brightness to calibrate Orion’s camera software.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Steve Lockhart, M.S., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Optical Nav

Principal Investigator(s)
Steve Lockhart, M.S., Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

Michael Ruiz, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

Information Pending

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)

Research Benefits
Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2014 - September 2015; February 2018 - August 2018; -

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The objective of Moon Imagery is to collect Moon Images from known Low Earth Orbit positions for Orion Optical Navigation Algorithm Refinement.
  • The investigation focuses on collecting lunar images over a span of at least one lunar cycle (29 days).
  • Use of the ISS as a photographic platform eliminates atmosphere image distortion present in Earth based images.

Crew members capture moon images using onboard Nikon D4 camera and 58mm lens. Images are taken during 3 moon phases (crescent, mid, full). Thus, 3 sampling days are required, with 2 sessions per day. Each day should require 1.1 hrs for camera setup, preparation and photography. In addition, a single window scratch pane characterization photo session is required which should take 1.1 hrs. All total, the primary science objectives require 4.4 hrs of crew time to ensure readability.

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Space Applications
Spacecraft instruments are carefully calibrated before they leave Earth, but get jostled during launch and can experience changes in the harsh environment of space. Some instruments require re-adjustment once they reach orbit. The moon can be seen by all spacecraft and its surface shines with consistent brightness, providing a clear and reliable target for calibrating navigation cameras. Use of the ISS eliminates atmospheric interference and provides a space-based calibration system for navigation cameras on Orion and other future spacecraft.

Earth Applications
Comparison between ground-based and space-based images improves calibration of spacecraft navigation methods. The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is NASA’s next generation spacecraft capable of transporting humans to low-Earth orbit and beyond, inspiring a new generation of space pioneers.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
The ISS location and the position of the camera along with still images taken of the moon are needed to validate optical navigation methods. Knowing the relative state between the moon and the image provides a mean to compare the navigation algorithms. The camera’s clock needs to be calibrated to an accurate time source to determine camera’s true position when the image is taken. Fixed focus and focal length are required for all images taken since different focus or zoom between shots changes the magnification of the image. Images obtained should be equivalent to the expected optical resolution of the spacecraft’s navigation camera.

Astronauts use the on board hand-held digital camera to capture moon images from the ISS observation windows. Based on the ISS altitude and orbital inclination, the moon’s position relative to the space station’s orbit is determined providing an excellent mean to calibrate navigation programs.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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image NASA Image: ISS043E104149 - Moon Imaging Experiment Photo session.
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NASA Image: ISS032E9767 - This image, recorded with a digital still camera by a crew member onboard the ISS, is a glimpse of the barren moon through the Earth's atmosphere. The edge of the moon arcs crisply against the backdrop of space.

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NASA Image: ISS042E097549 - It's a full moon as viewed from the International Space Station (ISS) on 3 January 2015.

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NASA Image: JSC2014E063337 - Expedition 44/45 crew member Oleg Kononenko during Nikon D4 training.

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