Unseen Photos of the Moon
In a recent photo, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg took a picture of the moon. In it, she shows how far the moon is from Earth. She has taken the photo several times, including at a total lunar eclipse in July 2018.
The photo of Earthrise was taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968. And a few years later, the Voyager 1 space probe took a photo of Earth from afar. The two pictures are the only known photographs of the Moon taken outside of human eyes. While matter cannot be created or destroyed, it can be observed in photos taken from space. Interestingly, we can see humans outside of photo frames only when we are looking through telescopes and looking at the moon.
But the “dark side” of the moon was not always visible. Only recently has a new satellite called DSCOVR succeeded in revealing the moon’s dark side. This is because it passed directly between the moon and Earth – a feat that’s impossible for any satellite that’s further from Earth than DSCOVR is. This is a huge advantage for scientists, since they can study the features on the moon’s far side.
The most important of these photos were taken in 1966 by the Lunar Orbiter, which was the third spacecraft to reach the Moon. It was the first to take pictures of the Moon’s far side. While the photos were noisy and hazy, they did reveal a part of the Moon that had not been seen before. In the following decades, more of these photos will be captured.
The DSCOVR camera, launched in 2009, will be taking pictures of the moon’s far side twice a year. These images will pick up features that the Earth’s orbital plane cannot see. The images may include the 44-mile-wide Jackson Crater and the “Sea of Moscow,” a volcanic area on the moon’s far side. It’s almost as rare as photographing the far side of the moon during a solar eclipse.
The crater pits, known as ‘wrinkles,’ are also seen in the images. Those wrinkles are the result of the pressure exerted on the lunar surface. Magma filled ancient impact basins, and the weight of the magma pushed it down to the lowest point. The land then compressed the puddle to the lowest point, and the white sprinkles appeared on the wrinkles. These wrinkles are boulder-sized, and the white spots stand out against the black ridges.