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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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NASA Planning Asteroid Impact Exercise Next Week

NASA’s PDCO and other US agencies and space science institutions, along with international partners, will participate in the exercise

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longest spacecraft, women
Part of NASA's study of the effects of long spaceflights on the human body, Koch will spend 328 days in space. Pixabay

Aimed at effective disaster management, NASA and its international partners are planning to participate in an exercise that will play out a realistic — but fictional — scenario of an asteroid on an impact trajectory with Earth.

The scenario begins with the fictional premise that on March 26, astronomers “discovered” a NEO they consider potentially hazardous to Earth.

After a “few months” of tracking, observers predict that this near-Earth object (NEO) – dubbed 2019 PDC – poses a 1 in 100 chance of impact with Earth in 2027 (in real life, the international community has decided that a 1 in 100 chance of impact is the threshold for action).

Participants in this exercise will discuss potential preparations for asteroid reconnaissance and deflection missions and planning for mitigation of a potential impact’s effects, NASA said.

Scientists believe that these exercises can help people in the planetary defence community to understand what those on the disaster management side need to know.

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This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

“This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments,” Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defence Officer, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Better communication of the hazards posed by NEOs such as asteroids or comets has been a top priority for international groups, such as NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness-NEO Segment and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN).

Developed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid impact exercise next week is scheduled to take place at the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference to be held in the US from April 29 to May 3.

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NASA’s PDCO and other US agencies and space science institutions, along with international partners, will participate in the exercise, the US space agency said.

Next week’s exercise events will occur over the five days of the conference, with exercise leaders briefing participants on the status of the scenario at the end of each day and soliciting response ideas and feedback, based on the latest fictional data, NASA said. (IANS)