As 2015 comes to its inevitable close and we reflect back on the passing of time and look eagerly toward the fresh slate of a new year, here's a breathtaking composite image from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) of a spectacular Earthrise to put things into proper perspective. The uplifting image was created from a series of select shots taken on Oct. 12, when the LRO was 83 miles above the moon’s farside crater Compton.
Here's NASA's description of this awe-inspiring portrait of our beautiful planet.
In this composite image we see Earth appear to rise over the lunar horizon from the viewpoint of the spacecraft, with the center of the Earth just off the coast of Liberia (at 4.04 degrees North, 12.44 degrees West). The large tan area in the upper right is the Sahara Desert, and just beyond is Saudi Arabia. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America are visible to the left. On the moon, we get a glimpse of the crater Compton, which is located just beyond the eastern limb of the moon, on the lunar farside.
Capturing an image of the Earth and moon with LRO’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) instrument is a complicated task. First the spacecraft must be rolled to the side (in this case 67 degrees), then the spacecraft slews with the direction of travel to maximize the width of the lunar horizon in LROC’s Narrow Angle Camera image. All this takes place while LRO is traveling faster than 3,580 miles per hour (over 1,600 meters per second) relative to the lunar surface below the spacecraft!
Enjoy the view, and we wish you a bright and sparkling new year!