I had a yen to go and look at some pictures from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter earlier and I was amazed to see this. The original caption reads: “The Earth straddling the limb of the Moon, as seen from above Compton crater … WAC E1199291151C (Earth only), NAC M1199291564LR (Earth and Moon); sequence start time 12 October 2015 12:18:17.384 UTC [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].”
The image isn’t an artificial construct in the sense that it’s not two disparate images mashed together as you see so often on social media claiming to be some new phenomenon. It’s a composite of a number of images taken with the Narrow Angle Camera and the Wide Angle Camera (NAC and WAC, who knew?) and painstakingly assembled. The color for earth was overlaid based on the data the WAC is capable of seeing. The team at Arizona State University say on their website that a human eye would see more color since the eye is more sensitive to a larger range of visible wavelengths. In their words “the view here combines the 604 nm (orange), 556 nm (yellow-green), and 415 nm (violet) bands displayed in red, green, and blue, respectively.”
It’s still amazing.
For more details on this image (including the chance to download the full 300+Mb TIF) visit http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/895. For more about LROC itself check out the sites at http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/about and https://lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov/
The LRO was launched in June 2009 and actually started delivering images in the Fall of 2009 (on September 15, 2009, which is as auspicious date for the Brits among us). Its primary mission was anticipated to be just one yea, with a science mission of 2 years. It’s had two 2-year mission extensions and is still active nine and a half years since launch.
A lovely little PR touch was added, according to Wikipedia
“Prior to the LRO’s launch, NASA gave members of the public the opportunity to have their names placed in a microchip on the LRO. The deadline for this opportunity was July 31, 2008. About 1.6 million names were submitted.”