NASA captures Earth in all its glory

21 Dec 2015

In what seems like a constant race against itself to produce the best images of our planet, NASA’s latest attempt is a doozy, capturing the moon, the Earth and all its glory.

Previous leaders in this category include the iconic 1972 ‘Blue Marble’ image, a surprise Chinese candidate from its recent lunar mission, as well as the as yet unbeaten Pale Blue Dot from Voyager 1.

Now NASA has another inclusion from the aptly named Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), with Earth pictured rising from behind our moon.

“The image is simply stunning,” said LRO’s Noah Petro, who helps oversee a mission now well into its seventh year, primarily capturing images of just the moon.

Packed with seven instruments, the LRO sees a dozen ‘Earthrises’ every day, with this image taken back in October. It’s actually a composite, as are plenty of space images, with Mark Robinson, who works with the LRO’s camera, noting this image is relatively fictitious, yet wonderful.

“From the Earth, the daily moonrise and moonset are always inspiring moments,” he said.

“However, lunar astronauts will see something very different: viewed from the lunar surface, the Earth never rises or sets. Since the moon is tidally locked, Earth is always in the same spot above the horizon, varying only a small amount with the slight wobble of the moon.

“The Earth may not move across the ‘sky’, but the view is not static. Future astronauts will see the continents rotate in and out of view and the ever-changing pattern of clouds will always catch one’s eye, at least on the near side. The Earth is never visible from the far side; imagine a sky with no Earth or moon – what will far side explorers think with no Earth overhead?”

So below we have (from the top) LRO’s latest snap, the 1972 Blue Marble, China’s fantastic Earth and moon shot as well as the Pale Blue Dot (all via NASA, JPL and Xinhua News).

Earth moon rise NASA

Blue Marble Earth NASA


pale blue dot

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic