Nikon's Z9 is headed for the moon

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The Nikon Z9 is going to the moon.

NASA has selected the Z9 for the upcoming Artemis III mission which will be used by the crew returning to the surface of the Moon in 2026 (or thereabouts).

As you might expect, the Z9's the astronauts will take to the moon won't be your run-of-the-mill cameras you can buy down the road.

Image: Nikon
Image: Nikon

In fact, Nikon’s engineers are working closely with NASA to develop solutions to make the Z9's more reliable, including the redesign of various circuits and control sequences within the camera to withstand the vast amounts of radiation found on the moon.

In addition, the research also extends to expanding noise reduction to lower shutter speeds to account for the effects of constant bombardment of cosmic radiation that the crew and gear encounter. Additional modifications include shutter shield optimisation, and enhanced HDR functionality.

Additionally, the camera will need to be used by astronauts during extravehicular activities (EVA), instances when the crew will be in space or on moonwalks.

In order for astronauts to use the Z9 when wearing the thick gloves of a spacesuit, a custom grip is being developed which includes common controls such as a shutter release, playback, still/video capture switching and more.

To protect the camera, lens and housing during EVA, a special “thermal blanket” will also be created, which is similar to those currently used during exterior spacewalks by International Space Station astronauts.

Further, a selection of NIKKOR Z lenses will also be used for the mission, and those that will be actively used on the Moon will be modified to withstand the harsh lunar environment.

As NASA notes, it's a huge leap forward from when Apollo astronauts used viewfinderless large-format film cameras that were attached to their spacesuits at chest level.

The crew’s historic expedition will be the first human landing on the lunar surface since 1972, and this mission will also mark the first time a woman will walk on the Moon.

During the 30-day mission, the crew will enter lunar orbit, after which two astronauts will land on the lunar surface in the lunar module (SpaceX’s Starship Human Landing System).

After spending approximately seven days on the lunar surface conducting research and multiple moonwalks, they will return to the Orion spacecraft to join the other two crew members and return to Earth.

You can read more about the mission here

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