NASA has captured images of the far side of the moon as never seen before.
NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory, known as DSCOVR for short, has captured stunning images of the far side of the moon as it crosses in front of the Earth from 1 million miles away. The spacecraft captured the images from a gravitationally neutral point between the Earth and the sun.
The images were captured by the spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, abbreviated EPIC, between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16. The images were then compiled into an animated video showing the moon transiting Earth from approximately 1 million miles away.
These images were released just one month after the DSCOVR spacecraft snapped its first photo of Earth showing the entire sunlit portion of the planet. DSCOVR will soon begin capturing daily images of the entire sunlit side of Earth. [Read more: NASA Captures 'EPIC' Image Of Earth From Space]
“It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon,” DSCOVR project scientist Adam Szabo said in a statement. “Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface.”
The images reveal a side of the moon that is not visible to human eyes down on Earth known as the lunar far side. Because the Earth and moon are tidally locked, the moon will always show the same face to Earth. The moon’s far side is sometimes incorrectly described as the dark side of the moon, despite the fact that it receives about as much light from the sun as the side of the moon that faces Earth.
The far side of the moon has been imaged extensively since the first photos of it were captured by the Soviet Union’s Luna 3 spacecraft in 1959. NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft captured similar photos of the far side of the moon as it transited the Earth from 31 million miles away. However, the photos were of much lower resolution and only showed a partially illuminated hemisphere of Earth.
DSCOVR is a space weather and Earth observation satellite that was launched into orbit earlier this year. NASA will start uploading color images of Earth on a daily basis to a dedicated public website once the mission begins making regular Earth observations starting next month.