7 February 2024

International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA Hawaiʻi) is very pleased to announce that its small camera, named Ka ʻImi, will head to the Moon on February 14, 2024.  Ka ʻImi is one of two ILOA cameras atop the Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander set to be launched as part of USA’s return to the Moon. The cameras, one narrow field and one wide field, were designed and built in Canada and will be launched from Florida. Their journey is a reflection of the international endeavor astronomy encompasses and is a shining example of Hawaiʻi Astronomy and its collaborations with people from around the world.

“The ILO-X Moon-landing instruments seek to pioneer a New Frontier for Astronomy through ILOA Galaxy imaging and Astronomy observations, and to open a new dimension for 21st Century Hawai’i Astrophysics with Aloha” said Steve Durst, the Founding Director of ILOA.

The Intuitive Machines IM-1 mission hopes to be the first to succeed in its landing after more than 50 years since the last USA mission touched down on the Moon. This lunar mission comes on the heels of Moon landings made by India, China and Japan.  

The story of Ka ʻImi is not only unique in its design and fabrication origins, but also its name. The name, Ka ʻImi, is the winning submission by a student from Kealakehe Intermediate School as a part of ILOA’s Moon Camera Naming Contest held in 2022. Translated from ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, Ka ʻImi means “to search.” This is fitting for one of its main goals which is to take the first image of the Milky Way Galaxy from the surface of the Moon in the 21st century. The name Ka ʻImi is also etched into a bracket supporting the narrow field camera. 

“Ka ʻImi is a perfect name for this camera since it will be our [Hawaiʻi’s] first mission to the Moon,” said James Kimo Keliʻi Pihana, a veteran Hawaiʻi island cultural practitioner and board member for ILOA. “As human beings, we are beginning again to return to the Moon. As Hawaiians, we are returning to Hina, the goddess.” Pihana was one of five volunteer judges who selected the name Ka ʻImi from submissions by Hawaiʻi students.

“We’ve been in Kamuela for 20 wonderful years,” says Durst. “We hope that having our own headquarters will allow us to further share our passions of observation and communication from the Moon with our local community and encourage everyone to join us in this pursuit.”  

The launch of the cameras on the IM-1 mission on February 13 at 7:57pm HST will be broadcast via SpaceX and multiple other locations online. Hawaiʻi Island residents can learn more about Ka ʻImi and ILOA Hawaiʻi’s multiple missions after the launch and landing when ILOA Hawai’i plans to share images taken from Ka ‘Imi on the Moon surface and during launch at local Galaxy Forum meetings. 

For more information about ILOA or to join us at a future Galaxy Forum, please contact us at info@iloa.org or 808-885-3474.