NASA has released pictures which showed the Moon photobombing Earth as it rotates. The photos were taken by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a 4 MP CCD camera and telescope carried by the Deep Space Climate Observatory. The photographs were taken when the moon transverse across the Earth on July 4 and five which showed a partially lit moon.
Lunar transits like this are very rare, and it is only for the second time in the spacecraft’s history when the moon moved between the spacecraft and the Earth. A similar episode had happened last year also on July 16, 2015, between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
Deep Space Climate Observatory orbits the earth at 1 million miles from the planet at a point known as the Lagrange point. It is an area where the earth’s gravitational pull is equal and opposite to that of the sun. The moon passes between the Earth and the spacecraft once or twice each year depending on the orbital status of the observatory.
The DSCOVR is a joint project of U.S. Air Force, NASA, and NOAA. The data generated by the satellite is necessary for the accuracy of space weather forecasts and alerts sent by NOAA. The satellite gathers data about solar flares which spew out a large quantity of charged ions which can be lethal for satellites orbiting the planets. The earth’s magnetosphere protects the inhabitants of the planets from these harmful radiations. However, there is no protective shield in space.
The satellite gives critical warning before such solar outbursts which can hinder life on the planet. The satellite continuously observes the fully lit planet and returns crucial data about cloud height, vegetation, and ozone in the atmosphere.
The EPIC camera aboard the observatory will start regular observations from next month, and NASA has said that it will daily upload color images taken by the camera for access to the public. There will be a time lag of 12 to 36 hours between the time the photos have been taken and subsequently uploaded.