Nasa camera reveals ‘dark side’ of moon from 1.6m km away

Images shows the fully illuminated dark side of the moon that is never visible from Earth

Nasa release satellite images of the far side of the moon, illuminated by the sun, as it crosses between the DSCOVR spacecraft's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) and telescope, and the Earth - one million miles away. Video: NASA


Nasa has released a stunning animation showing a unique view of the moon as it was photographed last month passing between the sunlit side of Earth and a satellite positioned 1.6 million km away.

Taken by a camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite on July 16th the images show the fully illuminated ‘dark side’ of the moon that is not visible from Earth.

The images were taken by the US space agency’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (Epic), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite.

Epic maintains a constant view of the fully illuminated Earth as it rotates, providing daily scientific reports of ozone, vegetation, cloud height, and airborne aerosols.

From next month, the camera will provide a series of Earth images allowing study of daily variations over the entire globe and Nasa will post daily colour images to a dedicated public website.

The space agency says the images will show different views of the planet as it rotates through the day and will be available 12 to 36 hours after they are acquired.

About twice a year the camera will capture images of the moon and Earth together as the orbit of DSCOVR crosses the orbital plane of the moon.

The images released on Thursday by Nasa were taken between 3.50pm and 8.45pm EDT on July 16th. They show the moon moving over the Pacific Ocean near North America.

The North Pole is in the upper left corner of the image, reflecting the orbital tilt of Earth from the vantage point of the spacecraft.

It is not the first time the far side of the moon has been observed from a spacecraft - several missions have photographed the moon in great detail since the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first images in 1959 .

In May 2008 Nasa’s Deep Impact spacecraft captured a similar view of Earth and the moon from a distance of 31 million miles away.