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Live from the moon: NASA aims to wow public with landing video, images

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Live from the moon: NASA aims to wow public with landing video, images
An illustration shows NASA's Orion spacecraft orbiting the moon, which could happen as early as late 2021. Image courtesy of NASA

ORLANDO, Fla., April 2 (UPI) -- NASA has started intense planning to capture public attention with high-definition video, photos and possible live streaming from the moon during upcoming Artemis missions.

Grainy delayed footage -- sometimes only in black and white -- was a hallmark of the first Apollo moon landing in 1969. But even that captured 650 million viewers around the globe.

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Artemis moon missions will feature images more like the heart-pounding video of the Mars rover Perseverance parachuting and blasting its way to the Red Planet's surface on Feb. 18, Artemis astronaut Scott Tingle said.

"I hope to be on the moon missions, but if I'm not, I'm going to be glued to my TV, and I'm going to be watching almost everything that comes down," Tingle told UPI.

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"There's a huge opportunity here to pipe a lot of this through NASA TV, and I don't think that this organization is going to miss an opportunity to do that if it's technically possible," Tingle said.

NASA is planning its first rocket trip to the moon since 1972, possibly by November or December of this year, which won't carry a crew.

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Inside the Orion capsule, NASA plans to send two dummies named Zohar and Helga that will have sensors to track such conditions as radiation exposure.

NASA intended to land astronauts, including the first woman moon walker, by 2024, but that is likely to be delayed due to a lack of congressional funding.

Tingle knows well how moon landing images can inspire. Born in 1965, he watched Apollo missions and decided to become an astronaut as a child.

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"I totally understand the impact it has for young folks setting goals, being interested in science, technology, engineering and math. And for just having a broader view of humanity," Tingle said.

The first couple of Artemis missions may still have blackout periods for video as the Orion spacecraft disappears behind the moon, Tingle said.

But NASA is trying to improve the Deep Space Network, which is the agency's system of transmitters that communicate with spacecraft on deep space missions.

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"We may get to that point" of 24-hour live-stream video from the moon, Tingle said.

NASA isn't sure if the public will be interested in 24-hour streaming for the first mission, Kathryn Hambleton, media relations specialist involved in planning for Artemis video and communications, told UPI.

The uncrewed Artemis I flight around the moon will swoop in close to the lunar surface on two occasions, she said, and NASA would like to stream those events live if possible.

"A lot of that will depend on the launch day and the trajectory that we have, but we will absolutely be recording that video and making it available because we think it'll be pretty awesome and a pretty big deal," Hambleton said.

The goal for the first mission is to test the spacecraft for human occupation and to investigate lunar orbits, she said. But it will carry a lot of cameras, mostly off-the-shelf high-definition cameras slightly modified for spaceflight.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been taking detailed photos of the moon since 2009, but Artemis missions are planned to touch the surface where Apollo never landed -- on the moon's South Pole.

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The first advance missions, a rover named Peregrine and a lander named Nova-C, are scheduled to launch later this year and could provide new data and images.

New images of the lunar South Pole, where water ice exists, should help NASA explain to the public how valuable space exploration is, said Amy Foster, professor of space history at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Artemis astronauts also include women and minorities who weren't represented among Apollo crews, Foster said in an interview Thursday, adding that live images of them on the moon will have a profound impact on young people.

"Research has shown people need to see others like them doing great things to really imagine that for themselves," Foster said. "Fifty years from now, the kids who see Artemis images will be leading our space agency hopefully."

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Moghbeli poses for a portrait in the Systems Engineering Simulator for the International Space Station and advanced spaceflight programs at the Johnson Space Center on July 9, 2019. She will train for the moon mission. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA

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