NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite, that orbits one million miles away from earth, captured images of the dark side of the moon.
The images that were captured by a four-megapixel camera show the moon as it moves in front of the sunlit side of Earth. The dark side of the moon (formally referred to as the far side) was fully illuminated, as the satellites camera captured it. The sunlight, which allowed the dark side to be seen clearly, revealed a crater as well as a large plain, referred to as the Mare Moscoviense.
Taken on the 16th of July the images show the moon as it moves across the Pacific Ocean towards North America. Humankinds’ first view of the dark side of the moon came in 1959 as part of a Soviet mission, but now NASA’s observatory will capture images twice a year as they monitor solar winds.
Those of us who inhabit earth only see one side of the moon as it’s tidally locked to earth, which means that the moons orbital period is the same as the moons rotation around it’s axis.
“It’s unusual because you need a spacecraft that has gone beyond the moon to get a picture of the moon like this,” explains Associate Professor Michael Brown (astronomer at Monash University). “This was taken around one million miles from Earth. We don’t normally get that perspective”.
“Because of its mission, this spacecraft is in a sweet spot directly in the direction of the sunlit Earth, meaning it’s seeing a completely sunlit moon, too. You get a whole new perspective on the moon. It looks very different from the side we see from Earth.”
Adam Szabo (scientist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center) believes that the image as well as showing the dark side of the moon, also show how truly brilliant Earth is “It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon…Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface.”
Brown summarised all of this by deeming the images “Captivating.”
Becky A @Bex18W