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NASA camera captures far side of the moon

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Washington: From nearly 1.6 lakh km away, a NASA camera has captured a stunning view of the far side of the moon as it moved in front of the sun-lit side of Earth last month.

The images show the fully illuminated “dark side” of the moon that is never visible from Earth.

The lunar far side lacks the large and dark basaltic plains (called maria) that are so prominent on the Earth-facing side.

A thin sliver of shadowed area of moon is visible on its right side.

“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,” said said Adam Szabo, project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The images were captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite orbiting 1 million miles (1.6 lakh km) from Earth.

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.

The far side of the moon was not seen until 1959 when the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first images.

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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.

Once EPIC begins regular observations next month, NASA will post daily colour images of Earth to a dedicated public website.

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.
(IANS)

 

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Space Exploration Critical for our Survival, Says Jeff Bezos

He envisions fuelling rockets with lunar ice water and using the Moon as the base to explore space further

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

While Elon Musk-led SpaceX always stays in limelight, world’s richest person Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin is fast catching up because for him, “space exploration is critical to our survival”.

In an interview with CBS News along with John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline late on Wednesday, Bezos who founded Blue Origin almost 19 years back said he wants his company to be “an instrumental part” of return to the Moon by the US.

“We’re going to be, I hope, an instrumental part of it in cooperation with dozens of companies and governments,” Bezos was quoted as saying.

“To go back to the Moon and the time frame that the administration wants to do, we absolutely need the support of the government to do that,” Bezos said.

In May, Bezos unveiled Blue Origin’s vision for space and also plans for a Moon lander known as “Blue Moon”, set to be ready by 2024.

“I think it is important for this planet. I think it’s important for the dynamism of future generations. It is something I care deeply about,” said Bezos.

bezos, money, bill gates
Bezos whose worth nearly $119 billion is running out of money. VOA

The Moon lander “Blue Moon” was in development for three years.

“We must return to the Moon – this time to stay,” the Blue Origin CEO had said.

Bezos revealed that the larger variant of the lander would not only be able to get people on the Moon but also be able to carry the rover to shoot off small satellites and execute scientific missions.

Also Read: Twitter Testing a New Feature Called ‘Hide Replies’

In the near future, Bezos envisions creating enormous space colonies in close proximity to Earth, as a way of expanding humanity to a trillion people.

He envisions fuelling rockets with lunar ice water and using the Moon as the base to explore space further.

“We can harvest that ice and use it to make hydrogen and oxygen, which are rocket propellants,” Bezos said recently. (IANS)