NASA stuns with images of the moon crossing earth from 1.6 million kilometers away.
NASA delivers yet another stunning perspective from space.
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A NASA camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured a unique view of the moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth last month.
The series of images shows the fully illuminated “dark side” of the moon. That side is never visible from Earth.
NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) is a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite orbiting 1 million miles from Earth.
From its position between the sun and Earth, DSCOVR conducts its primary mission of real-time solar wind monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
EPIC maintains a constant view of the fully illuminated Earth as it rotates, providing scientific observations of ozone, vegetation, cloud height and aerosols in the atmosphere.
Once EPIC begins regular observations next month, the camera will provide a series of Earth images allowing study of daily variations over the entire globe.
About twice a year the camera will capture the moon and Earth together as the orbit of DSCOVR crosses the orbital plane of the moon.
These images were taken between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16, showing the moon moving over the Pacific Ocean near North America.
The North Pole is in the upper left corner of the image, reflecting the orbital tilt of Earth from the vantage point of the spacecraft.
The far side of the moon was not seen until 1959 when the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first images. Since then, several NASA missions have imaged the lunar far side in great detail.
The same side of the moon always faces an earthbound observer because the moon is tidally locked to Earth. That means its orbital period is the same as its rotation around its axis.
EPIC’s “natural color” images of Earth are generated by combining three separate monochrome exposures taken by the camera in quick succession.
“It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon," said Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface.”
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Once EPIC begins regular observations next month, NASA will post daily color images of Earth to a dedicated public website.