Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter snaps spectacular "Earthrise" image
NASA has released a stunning image of an Earthrise captured from the perspective of the agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The bottom half of the image displays the bleak yet enchanting lunar surface, whilst the upper portion captures Earth's fragile disk swathed in white cloud.
The LRO was launched in 2009 atop an Atlas V rocket with a mission to characterize Earth's closest celestial partner with a suite of seven advanced scientific instruments. The LRO experiences Earth rise 12 times a day, yet images of our planet snapped from the satellite are relatively rare. This is a result of the satellite's scientific objectives, which ordinarily require a nose-down study of the lunar surface.
However, periodically the LRO needs to orientate itself to the Moon's horizon in order to calibrate an instrument or snap a picture of the tenuous lunar atmosphere. During these rare interludes, the orbiter's cameras are occasionally free to image the big blue marble that we call home.
The new image, which was snapped on October 12, is actually comprised of multiple shots taken by the satellite's high-resolution Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) and Wide Angle Camera (WAC) camera. When compiling the image, high-resolution black-and-white shots from NAC were augmented by lower-resolution color images taken by WAC.The end result is a stunning image highlighting the complex beauty of Earth, juxtaposed by the barren, monotone lunar surface.