Moon Photobombs Earth

Published: August 6, 2015

Moon Photobombs Earth, The Deep Space Climate Observatory, better known as DSCOVR, is designed to provide full-disk, sunlit views of our home planet from a vantage point a million miles away. But every so often, the moon crosses through the frame. Today, NASA released the first amazing photobomb sequence.
The perspective from DSCOVR’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (a.k.a. EPIC), captured on July 16, provides a topsy-turvy view: Here we’re seeing the moon’s far side, which earthbound skywatchers can never observe. And although it looks like a full moon, on Earth the moon was in its totally dark, “new” phase.

This isn’t the first lunar photobombing: NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft caught the moon crossing Earth’s half-lit disk back in 2008. But when DSCOVR goes into full operation next month and starts sending back near-real-time images, we can expect to see a new-moon photobomb roughly twice a year.

Launched in February, DSCOVR is a joint mission of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with the twin objectives of making climate observations and keeping watch for incoming solar storms.

The Earth-watching part of the mission follows through on an idea put forward by Vice President Al Gore back in the 1990s – and the former veep was obviously tickled to see the latest pictures released from NASA’s lockbox:

.@Nasa just released an incredible video of the moon passing in front of the Earth from #DSCOVR’s vantage point

— Al Gore (@algore) August 5, 2015

Update for 12:50 p.m. PT Aug. 5: So when’s the next photobomb? That’s what I asked Adam Szabo, who’s the DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Here’s his emailed reply: “I have checked with the flight dynamics folks, and we do not have a similar lunar transit occurring in 2015 at all. Our [prediction of] spacecraft orbits for 2016 is not complete yet to a precision to predict a precise date for the lunar transit.”


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