NASA's lunar orbiter snaps the solar eclipse from the Moon
The internet is alive with images of the spectacular solar eclipse on August 21, but here is one vantage point we haven't seen. As the darkness enveloped a huge swath of the United States, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) directed its camera toward the Earth and snapped the Moon's shadow over around Nashville, Tennessee.
The image was captured by the LRO's camera system, which is actually made up of three separate cameras. Two Narrow Angle Cameras capture high-res black and white images, while a third Wide Angle Camera snaps moderate-resolution images with filters designed to gather information about the properties and color of the lunar surface.
Just as the LRO zoomed past the lunar south pole at 3,579 mph (1,600 meters per second), it turned back to face the Earth and catch the eclipse at a location very close to where totality lasted the longest. At this point, the shadow of the Moon was sweeping across the Earth's surface at 1,500 mph (670 meters per second).
Rather than snapping the entire frame at once, as a digital or smartphone camera would do, the Narrow Angle Cameras built the image line by line over 18 seconds, totaling 52,224 lines for the entire image. This was done with each line exposed for less than one-thousandth of a second, as low as possible to avoid bright clouds from over-saturating the image.