The view from Compton

Whooooooo – Phil Plait alerts us to an amazing NASA photo taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

This incredible photo was taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been mapping the Moon since it achieved orbit in 2009. Its cameras are usually pointed straight down (what’s called nadir viewing), but sometimes the whole spacecraft is rotated to point them toward the horizon, or even up into space, to measure the Moon’s incredibly thin atmosphere (called an exosphere, which, c’mon, is an extremely cool word) or to take calibration measurements.

In this case, on Oct. 12, 2015, when it took the images used to make this image, LRO was over the large crater Compton, which is just over the visible edge on the farside of the Moon. LRO was 134 km above the Moon’s surface, so it could peek over the horizon and see the Earth.


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