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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Nikon partners with NASA to make moon camera for upcoming Artemis III mission

Nikon and NASA have joined forces to develop the Handheld Universal Lunar Camera (HULC), a cutting-edge mirrorless camera system designed specifically for astronauts during NASA's upcoming Artemis III mission to the Moon.

The Artemis III which is scheduled for launch no earlier than September 2026 aims to explore the lunar south pole, a region rich in scientific potential due to the presence of water ice within shadowed craters.

However, the extreme lighting and temperature conditions pose unique challenges for capturing imagery in this environment.

Nikon's flagship Z9 camera has undergone rigorous testing, including thermal, vacuum, and radiation assessments, laying the groundwork for its adaptation into the HULC system. Equipped with Nikkor lenses and incorporating NASA-designed thermal blankets and modified electrical components, the HULC camera is engineered to withstand lunar conditions while delivering exceptional image quality.

To enhance usability for astronauts wearing bulky gloves, the HULC features a custom grip with modified buttons, ensuring ease of operation in the challenging lunar environment.

Nikon's legacy in space exploration dates back to the 1971 Apollo 15 mission, which carried a modified Nikon Photomic FTN camera.

However, while previous lunar missions relied on large-format cameras without viewfinders, the HULC represents a significant advancement, providing astronauts with a built-in viewfinder and onboard video capabilities.

Unlike past missions where separate cameras were required for photography and video, the HULC's integrated features enable seamless capture of both still images and video content, streamlining the astronauts' workflow and enhancing their ability to document lunar exploration.

With the HULC, Artemis astronauts will have a versatile and efficient tool at their disposal, enabling them to capture the awe-inspiring beauty and scientific significance of their lunar mission with unprecedented clarity and convenience.

As NASA prepares to return to the Moon and embark on new frontiers of space exploration, collaborations like this one demonstrate the power of innovation in advancing our understanding of the cosmos.


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