NASA's EPIC Satellite Camera Shows Moon Crossing Face of EarthNASA Camera Catches Moon 'Photobombing' Earth
Moon transiting Earth on July 5, 2016 as seen by DSCOVR satellite EPIC camera for 2nd time in a year
July 11, 2016: On July 5, 2016, the moon passed between NOAA's DSCOVR satellite and Earth. NASA's EPIC camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory or DSCOVR snapped these images over a period of about four hours. In this set, the far side of the moon, which is never seen from Earth, passes by. In the backdrop, Earth rotates, starting with the Australia and Pacific and gradually revealing Asia and Africa.
For only the second time in a year, a NASA camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured a view of the moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth.
"For the second time in the life of DSCOVR, the moon moved between the spacecraft and Earth,” said Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "The project recorded this event on July 5 with the same cadence and spatial resolution as the first ‘lunar photobomb’ of last year."
The images were captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four-megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite orbiting 1 million miles from Earth. From its position between the sun and Earth, DSCOVR conducts its primary mission of real-time solar wind monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
EPIC maintains a constant view of the fully illuminated Earth as it rotates, providing scientific observations of ozone, vegetation, cloud height and aerosols in the atmosphere. The EPIC camera is providing a series of Earth images allowing study of daily variations over the entire globe.
These images were taken between July 4 at 11:50 p.m. EDT and July 5 at 3:18 a.m. EDT (0350 UTC and 0718 UTC on July 5), showing the moon moving over the Indian and Pacific oceans. The North Pole is at the top of the images.
DSCOVR is orbiting around the sun-Earth first Lagrange point (where the gravitational pull of Earth is equal and opposite of that of the sun) in a complex, non-recurring orbit that changes from an ellipse to a circle and back (called a Lissajous orbit) taking the spacecraft between 4 and 12 degrees from the sun-Earth line. This orbit intersects the lunar orbit about four times a year. However, depending on the relative orbital phases of the moon and DSCOVR, the moon appears between the spacecraft and Earth once or twice a year.
The last time EPIC captured this event was between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16, 2015.
EPIC’s “natural color” images of Earth are generated by combining three separate monochrome exposures taken by the camera in quick succession. EPIC takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband spectral filters—from ultraviolet to near infrared—o produce a variety of science products. The red, green and blue channel images are used in these color images.
Combining three images taken about 30 seconds apart as the moon moves produces a slight but noticeable camera artifact on the right side of the moon. Because the moon has moved in relation to Earth between the time the first (red) and last (green) exposures were made, a thin green offset appears on the right side of the moon when the three exposures are combined. This natural lunar movement also produces a slight red and blue offset on the left side of the moon in these unaltered images.
DSCOVR is a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force with the primary objective of maintaining the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.
The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.
For more information about DSCOVR, visit:www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC)
NASA has contributed two Earth science instruments for NOAA's space weather observing satellite called the Deep Space Climate Observatory or DSCOVR. One of the instruments called EPIC or Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera images the Earth in one picture, something that hasn't been done before from a satellite. EPIC also provides valuable atmospheric data.
Previously, to get an entire Earth view, scientists had to piece together images from satellites in orbit. With the launch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) DSCOVR and the EPIC instrument, scientists get pictures of the entire sunlit side of Earth. To get that view, EPIC orbits the first sun-Earth Lagrange point (L1), 1 million miles from Earth. At this location, four times further than the orbit of the Moon, the gravitational pull of the sun and Earth cancel out providing a stable orbit for DSCOVR. Most other Earth-observing satellites circle the planet within 22,300 miles.
EPIC assembles its photograph-like views by combining information from the instrument’s red, green, and blue bands. Bands are narrow regions of the electromagnetic spectrum to which a remote sensing instrument responds. When EPIC collects data, it takes a series of 10 images at different bands—from ultraviolet to near infrared.
The effective resolution of the EPIC camera is somewhere between 10 and 15 kilometers (6 to 9 miles) per pixel, according to Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Since Earth is extremely bright compared to the darkness of space, the exposure time for images is as little as 20 to 100 milliseconds. The much fainter stars in the background are not visible because of this short exposure time.
You can view those images daily by clicking here:http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/
Capture Date: July 5, 2016
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