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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.

Back_side_of_the_Moon_AS16-3021
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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Hubble Returns To Normal Functioning Soon: NASA

After the engineering tests have been completed, Hubble is expected to soon return to normal science operations, NASA stated

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NASA, space, red dwarf, hubble
Hubble's backup gyro, which had been off for more than 7.5 years, was incorrectly returning extremely high rotation rates. Flcikr

NASA has brought Hubble Space Telescope’s seven-year old backup gyroscope (gyro) back to life, after the spacecraft entered safe mode due to a failed gyro earlier this month, the US space agency said on Tuesday.

A gyro is a device that measures the speed at which the spacecraft is turning and is needed to help Hubble turn and lock on to new targets.

Hubble’s backup gyro, which had been off for more than 7.5 years, was incorrectly returning extremely high rotation rates, NASA said in a statement.

Hubble
The Hubble Telescope hovering in space. Wikimedia Commons

This gyro was turned on after the spacecraft entered safe mode due to a failed gyro on October 5.

Additional tests will be performed to ensure Hubble can return to science operations with this gyro, NASA said.

To correct high rotation rates, the Hubble team executed a running restart of the gyro on October 16.

This procedure turned the gyro off for one second, and then restarted it before the wheel spun down.

However, the data showed no improvement in the gyro’s performance.

Hubble Telescope. red dwarf
This gyro was turned on after the spacecraft entered safe mode due to a failed gyro on October 5. Flickr

The team, then on October 18, commanded a series of spacecraft maneuvers, or turns, in opposite directions to attempt to clear any blockage that may have caused the float to be off-centre and produce the exceedingly high rates.

During each maneuver, the gyro was switched from high mode to low mode to dislodge any blockage that may have accumulated around the float.

They noticed a significant reduction in the high rates, allowing rates to be measured in low mode for brief periods of time.

On October 19, the team again commanded Hubble to perform additional maneuvers and gyro mode switches, which appear to have cleared the issue.

NASA mars, UAE, Hubble
The planet Mars is shown May 12, 2016 in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope view when it was 50 million miles from Earth. VOA

The rotation rates produced by the backup gyro have since reduced and are now within an expected range, NASA noted.

Also Read: New Gamma-Ray Collection Named After Hulk, Godzilla: NASA

The team plans to execute a series of tests to evaluate the performance of the gyro under conditions similar to those encountered during routine science observations, including moving to targets, locking on to a target, and performing precision pointing.

After these engineering tests have been completed, Hubble is expected to soon return to normal science operations, NASA stated. (IANS)