China captures ‘dark side of the moon’

30 Oct 2014

The Earth and moon provide China's lunar mission with a photo op

It’s always the way, you spend your whole holiday looking for that perfect picture and it pops up just as you start to leave.

Yep, just as China’s lunar mission shaped up for a return to Earth on Saturday, a stunning image of the moon and Earth popped up in its lenses, shedding new light on the part of the moon we – and Pink Floyd – would consider the dark side.

The mission launched on 23 October, taking an eight-day round trip flight around the moon before journeying back to Earth, “after flying away from the moon’s gravitational sphere of influence and transferring to terrestrial orbit,” according to Xinhua news.

Of course it’s still some way short of the ultimate space snap of us happy heads on Earth. That prize is perhaps forever in the grasp of Voyager 1, taken decades ago when US space agency NASA’s spacecraft was at least still in our solar system.

This epic image of Earth, dubbed Pale Blue Dot, is a part of the first ever portrait of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic from a distance of more than 4bn miles from Earth. We’re about halfway down on the right.

Pale Blue Dot. Image via NASA

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic