NASA releases stunning view of the moon crossing Earth

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NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite, which launched in February this year, has sent back its first beautiful haul. DSCOVR sits about a million miles away from us and keeps a constant eye on the sunlit side of Earth. While its primary mission is to monitor the solar wind, an on-board camera recently snapped an incredible series of images showing the moon passing in front of the Earth.

NASA released the series of images in one animated GIF on their website, and the image has been wowing users on various social media throughout the day:

The moon passing in front of the Earth, from about a million miles away (NASA)

The moon passing in front of the Earth, from about a million miles away (NASA)

DSCOVR and its EPIC camera

The instrument responsible for the amazing view of Earth and the moon is actually a high-powered camera known as EPIC (Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera), a four megapixel CCD camera that provides scientists with data on Earth’s atmosphere as the planet rotates. According to NASA, EPIC catches the Earth and the moon together like this only about twice a year.

An NOAA diagram showing the relative distances between Earth, DSCOVR, and the Sun. (nesdis.noaa.gov)

An NOAA diagram showing the relative distances between Earth, DSCOVR, and the Sun. (nesdis.noaa.gov)

Another exciting aspect of the image is that the side of the moon facing EPIC is actually the “dark side” – the side that is never visible to earthlings, and which wasn’t observed by humankind until the Soviet space program snapped photos of it in 1959.

NASA’s press release explains how EPIC gives us “natural color” images of Earth:

EPIC’s “natural color” images of Earth are generated by combining three separate monochrome exposures taken by the camera in quick succession. EPIC takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband spectral filters — from ultraviolet to near infrared — to produce a variety of science products. The red, green and blue channel images are used in these color images.

EPIC plans to begin regular observations in September, at which time NASA has said it will make available daily color images of Earth from the same vantage point.

About Author

Adam Cameron spent his academic career learning about Iran, but ultimately decided that a job in the military-security-industrial complex just wasn't for him. He worked with Iranian refugees for a few years and has always dreamed of being a writer. He lives in North Hollywood, California in an 8-bit cocoon made out of an elaborate blanket fort covered in Adventure Time posters.

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