The DSCOVR project, the deep space climate observatory, which is maintaining watch on the Earth from 1.6 million kilometres in space, has sent back this video of the Moon crossing the face of the planet.
The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) maintains a constant view of the fully illuminated Earth as it rotates.
The mission is designed to provide scientific observations of ozone, vegetation, cloud height and aerosols in the atmosphere.
EPIC begins regular observations next month, when 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 16 July, 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.
It is also a rare glimpse of the far side of the Moon which lacks the large, dark, basaltic plains that are so prominent on the Earth-facing side. The largest far side features are Mare Moscoviense in the upper left and Tsiolkovskiy crater in the lower left. 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,” 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.”
For more information about DSCOVR.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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