The Earth Seen From Space

One of the most famous images of Earth was taken by Voyager 1 when it was 6 billion km from home. The Earth is a single pixel in that picture called The Pale Blue Dot. Voyager 1 was just about 12,000,000 km above Mt. Everest when it took this picture of the Earth and the Moon on 18 September, 1977. The Moon is on the far side of the Earth in this picture which shows East Asia, the Western Pacific, and part of the Arctic. Mt. Everest in hidden from view on the night side of the Earth.

Image Credit: NASA

You Are Here

earthmoon_cassini_960This is the Earth-Moon system as seen by the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn in the outer Solar System. Earth is the larger of the two spots near the center; the Moon is to its lower left. This raw, unprocessed image shows several streaks that are not stars. They are cosmic rays that struck the digital camera while it was taking the picture.

Image Credit: NASA

Earthshine

This video takes us around the Moon and shows how it is illuminated not only by the brilliant light of the Sun but also by light reflected from the Earth. The trip starts on the side facing away from Earth where part of the surface is brightly illuminated by the Sun but the rest is totally dark. Moving around the Moon, the Earth rises, and its reflected bluish light illuminates the Moon’s surface. This dull glow is the earthshine. (You can clearly see it from Earth when the Moon appears as a crescent in the evening or morning sky.) When the Sun emerges from behind the Moon, the brilliant crescent is seen, but the earthshine is still faintly visible.

Video Credit: ESO

SDO Sees the Moon Transit the Sun. Twice.

On 9 and 10 September, 2018, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, SDO, saw two lunar transits as the Moon passed in front of the Sun. A transit happens when one celestial body passes between another and an observer. This first lunar transit lasted one hour, from 2030 to 2130 UTC and covered 92 percent of the Sun. The second transit happened several hours later, 0152 until 0241 UTC and only obscured 34 percent of the Sun at its peak.

From SDO’s perspective, the Moon seems to move in one direction and then double back. It appears to do so because the spacecraft’s orbit catches up and passes the Moon during the first transit.

Image Credits: NASA

Polar Ice

These pictures show the distribution of surface ice at the Moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right) as detected by thes Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument. The blue areas are the icy regions plotted over images of the lunar surface with the gray scale corresponding to surface temperature (darker representing colder areas and lighter shades indicating warmer zones). As expected, the ice is concentrated at the darkest and coldest locations, the shadows of craters. This data is the first direct, definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface.

Image Credits: NASA