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NASA astronauts will use Nikon cameras to take pictures on the Moon

Nikon is developing a camera for space flights. Nikon is partnering with NASA to design a handheld camera for astronauts to use on the lunar surface as part of the upcoming Artemis missions.

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NASA and Nikon recently signed a deal to create a camera that can withstand the harsh temperatures of the lunar environment and be able to capture astronauts’ time on the Moon for scientific purposes (and maybe a cool selfie or two). The camera is planned to be ready for the third Artemis mission, tentatively scheduled for launch in September 2026.

During the Apollo era, a 70mm film camera was attached to the astronaut’s chest on the Moon to film missions. More than 50 years later, NASA wants to give astronauts on the lunar surface greater freedom of movement and the ability to easily press the shutter button.

 

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Teams at NASA’s Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama, have begun implementing necessary modifications to the standard Nikon Z9 camera to create the HULC (Handheld Universal Lunar Camera), NASA reports. The final version is a modified Nikon Z9 with Nikkor lenses, encased in a NASA heat-reflective coating to protect against dust and extreme temperatures, and a special handle with redesigned buttons that astronauts can operate while wearing thick gloves.

 

The camera will also be equipped with the latest imaging technologies and modified electrical components to protect against radiation damage. Compared to the cameras used to take 18,000 photographs on the Apollo missions, the Artemis camera will have a viewfinder, as well as video capabilities to record both photos and video on a single device.

 

It will be the first mirrorless handheld camera used on the Moon, designed for low-light photography.

 

As part of the Artemis preparations, NASA has also advanced the development of the docking system that the lunar crew will use to travel between the Orion spacecraft and the Starship lander, the latter to be built by SpaceX. Orion will carry astronauts from Earth to lunar orbit, and Starship will lower astronauts to the lunar surface.

 

NASA and SpaceX recently conducted docking system tests at Johnson Space Center, simulating the contact dynamics between two spacecraft in orbit, NASA said.

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