NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft has snapped rare views of the Moon transiting across Earth's disk. The images grant us a seldom-seen look at the so-called dark side of our planet's nearest celestial companion.
The DSCOVR spacecraft is positioned at lagrange point 1, one million miles distant from its homeworld with a mission to constantly monitor the fully-lit face of our planet, providing near real-time solar wind observations. Last month the spacecraft returned its first natural color view of Earth – a category of image also known as a blue marble.
The views of the far side of the Moon presented by DSCOVR are utterly irreconcilable to the aspect of Earth humanity has gazed at throughout our brief existence. This quirk is due to the fact that the Moon is tidally locked with Earth, resulting in the rocky body constantly showing us the same side.
The far side of the Moon is relatively bare when compared to its Earth-facing disk. This said, viewers can clearly pick out the distinctive Tsiolkovskiy crater on the lower section of the Sun-facing disk, along with the Mare Moscoviense on the upper left of the satellite.
"It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon," states Adam Szabo, project scientist for DSCOVR at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. "Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface."
The images were taken on July 16, using the spacecraft's 4-megapixel Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), with the opportunity to shoot the Earth and Moon together occurring only twice a year. NASA is planning to upload frequent shots of the blue marble to a dedicated DSCOVR web page, starting in September of this year.
Scroll down for the animated video of the transit.