Al Gore’s revamped “Triana” satellite catches the Moon photobombing Earth

From NASA Goddard:

NASA Camera Shows Moon Crossing Face of Earth for 2nd Time in a Year

For only the second time in a year, a NASA camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured a view of the moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth.

On July 5, 2016, the moon passed between NOAA's DSCOVR satellite and Earth. NASA's EPIC camera aboard DSCOVR snapped these images over a period of about four hours. In this set, the far side of the moon, which is never seen from Earth, passes by. In the backdrop, Earth rotates, starting with the Australia and Pacific and gradually revealing Asia and Africa. Credits: NASA/NOAA

On July 5, 2016, the moon passed between NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite and Earth. NASA’s EPIC camera aboard DSCOVR snapped these images over a period of about four hours. In this set, the far side of the moon, which is never seen from Earth, passes by. In the backdrop, Earth rotates, starting with the Australia and Pacific and gradually revealing Asia and Africa. Credits: NASA/NOAA

“For the second time in the life of DSCOVR, the moon moved between the spacecraft and Earth,” said Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The project recorded this event on July 5 with the same cadence and spatial resolution as the first ‘lunar photobomb’ of last year.”

The images were captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four-megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite orbiting 1 million miles from Earth. From its position between the sun and Earth, DSCOVR conducts its primary mission of real-time solar wind monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

EPIC maintains a constant view of the fully illuminated Earth as it rotates, providing scientific observations of ozone, vegetation, cloud height and aerosols in the atmosphere. The EPIC camera is providing a series of Earth images allowing study of daily variations over the entire globe.

These images were taken between July 4 at 11:50 p.m. EDT and July 5 at 3:18 a.m. EDT (0350 UTC and 0718 UTC on July 5), showing the moon moving over the Indian and Pacific oceans. The North Pole is at the top of the images.

DSCOVR is orbiting around the sun-Earth first Lagrange point (where the gravitational pull of Earth is equal and opposite of that of the sun) in a complex, non-recurring orbit that changes from an ellipse to a circle and back (called a Lissajous orbit) taking the spacecraft between 4 and 12 degrees from the sun-Earth line. This orbit intersects the lunar orbit about four times a year. However, depending on the relative orbital phases of the moon and DSCOVR, the moon appears between the spacecraft and Earth once or twice a year.

The last time EPIC captured this event was between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16, 2015.

EPIC’s “natural color” images of Earth are generated by combining three separate monochrome exposures taken by the camera in quick succession. EPIC takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband spectral filters — from ultraviolet to near infrared — to produce a variety of science products. The red, green and blue channel images are used in these color images.

Combining three images taken about 30 seconds apart as the moon moves produces a slight but noticeable camera artifact on the right side of the moon. Because the moon has moved in relation to Earth between the time the first (red) and last (green) exposures were made, a thin green offset appears on the right side of the moon when the three exposures are combined. This natural lunar movement also produces a slight red and blue offset on the left side of the moon in these unaltered images.

DSCOVR is a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force with the primary objective of maintaining the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

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77 thoughts on “Al Gore’s revamped “Triana” satellite catches the Moon photobombing Earth

  1. “For the second time in the life of DSCOVR, the moon moved between the spacecraft and Earth,” said Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The project recorded this event on July 5 with the same cadence and spatial resolution as the first ‘lunar photobomb’ of last year.”
    _______________________________

    That is pretty cool.

    Try this..

    March 11, 2016

    DSCOVR Captures EPIC Eclipse
    http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/
    NASA’s EPIC camera, aboard NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite, captured a unique view of this week’s solar eclipse. While residents of the Western Pacific looked up in the early morning hours to observe a total eclipse of the sun, DSCOVR looked on from a million miles away and captured the shadow of the moon crossing the planet.

    This series of images was captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite. A million miles away, NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite is the Nation’s first operational satellite in deep space. DSCOVR hovers between the sun and Earth at all times, maintaining a constant view of the sun and sun-lit side of Earth. From here, the satellite can provide advanced solar measurements and early warnings of potentially dangerous space weather events, acting as a solar storm buoy in deep space……..

    Hope Word press allows this animation..if not.. visit the page.

    • “..from a million miles away..”

      “..provide advanced solar measurements and early warnings of potentially dangerous space weather events, acting as a solar storm buoy in deep space”

      From that distance, exactly how much “warning” would we have?

      • Sparks July 17, 2016 at 5:48 pm
        Is the image above an artistic impression Carla?
        ——————————————-
        Not according to; see below

        http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=87675&eocn=home&eoci=iotd_image

        “”The animation above was assembled from 13 images acquired on March 9, 2016, by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four-megapixel charge-coupled device (CCD) and Cassegrain telescope on the DSCOVR satellite. Click on the link below the animation to download the individual images from the series.
        “What is unique for us is that being near the Sun-Earth line, we follow the complete passage of the lunar shadow from one edge of the Earth to the other,” said Adam Szabo, NASA’s project scientist for DSCOVR. “A geosynchronous satellite would have to be lucky to have the middle of an eclipse at noon local time for it. I am not aware of anybody ever capturing the full eclipse in one set of images or video.”
        In this, the only total solar eclipse of 2016, the shadow of the new Moon starts crossing the Indian Ocean and marches past Indonesia and Australia into the open waters and islands of Oceania (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia) and the Pacific Ocean. Note how the shadow moves in the same direction as Earth rotates. The bright spot in the center of each disk is sunglint—the reflection of sunlight directly back at the EPIC camera.””

  2. How come this has happened only twice?

    Doesn’t the moon rotate around earth all the time and shouldn’t it pass the camera every 27 days or so?

    • The satellite is also moving back and forth due to its own orbit around the L1 point, so it will be looking at the earth from different angles at different points in time. As the article says, its line of sight intersects the moon’s orbit about 4 times a year – meaning that it will be looking at the earth through the moon’s line of motion. The moon is not all that likely to be there at the same time.

    • Don’t forget when two bodies are in orbit, they actually orbit around each other at a centerpoint related to their relative mass. In the case of earth/moon the center of motion is actually very close to the earth. If the masses were more equal, the centerpoint of rotation would be right in the middle (some 125K miles between earth and moon)

      • The barycenter of the Earth-Moon system is 1000 km below the surface of the Earth on the side facing the Moon at the time.

        The satellite is in orbit around the Sun. It is cleverly positioned so as to use the gravity of Earth to slow its orbit to be basically the same ‘year’ as the Earth’s even though it is millions of miles closer to the Sun.

    • Hi! The moon unlike other moons in the Solar system does not have a sun retrograde orbit.
      Think of two worlds /moons spiralling around each other. in orbit around the sun.
      When taught at school this fact is not made clear and so the misconception occurs.
      That the Moon orbits in a sun retrograde path around the earth. It does not.

    • Reply to myself, camera ‘Filters’, amazing how camera ‘Filters’ can be used to either enhance or destroy a true image or theory.

      • it isn’t the filters. The lunar surface is about the same true color as an 18% grey card used for photo exposure setting. Those cards look just about the same as the “dull” moon in these photos. The reason the moon seen at night looks so bright and white is the illusion. It is in full sun while everywhere else is very very dark, so looks bright in comparison. In reality, it is a dusky medium grey. Any camers with a good telephoto lens set to auto expose for daylight will yield a very similar image. To make the moon look bright, you must set the camera to overexpose.

      • Hi E.M. Your reasoning is spot on. However the 18% quoted is only approximate. The lunar albedo is actually only 12% making the moon one very dark grey object! Also, a very hot object on the sunlit side (~400K equator).

      • Thanks Bruce,but the Brighness has been Filtered down,notice the same level following behind the Moon,North Africa,and east of the Red Sea.
        Well ‘Filtered’.

    • D.I. July 17, 2016 at 3:33 pm
      How come the Moon is so ‘Dull’ considering it is supposed to be in full sunlight?
      __________________________________________________________

      You will find the answer in the article below, describes the first time DSCOVR saw the “dark side of the moon.”

      Aug. 5, 2015
      From a Million Miles Away, NASA Camera Shows Moon Crossing Face of Earth

      http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/from-a-million-miles-away-nasa-camera-shows-moon-crossing-face-of-earth
      A NASA camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured a unique view of the moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth last month. The series of test images shows the fully illuminated “dark side” of the moon that is never visible from Earth.

      ….””””These images were taken between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16, showing 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.

      …The far side of the moon was not seen until 1959 when the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first images. Since then, several NASA missions have imaged the lunar far side in great detail. The same side of the moon always faces an earthbound observer because the moon is tidally locked to Earth. That means its orbital period is the same as its rotation around its axis.

      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. The series of images showed the moon passing in front of our home planet when it was only partially illuminated by the sun.”””…

      Another animation also at the above…

      • No, the animations are just that,’Animations’. Not true Images,land mass has been tempered down and clouds and water enhanced, camera ‘Filters’ show what they want you to see but are never true images to the natural eyesight of us humans.

      • @D.I.: This is no less valid an animation than that produced by a motion picture, just at a much lower frame rate. The images have not been “enhanced” in the way you’re implying, and the only “filters” used were the same as those used by your M-1 eyeballs: 1 red, 1 green, and 1 blue.

        The only differences are 1) that your eyes sample all three “filtered” images simultaneously, while the spacecraft took them one at a time, and 2) that the images were superimposed on top of one another by a computer before sending, instead of the ~3lb. pile of gray matter you & I use to “process” the “filtered” images from our eyes. Other than magnification (1 mega-mile is a long distance for the average eyeball), no special enhancements, effects, or adjustments were made, so barring biological differences between observers, these ARE actual images in the actual colors that you & I would have seen from that same spot in space at that time.

        FYI, Africa is darker because it’s only just after sunrise there, and most of the sunlight shining down is dispersed over a wide area (lower intensity incident lighting). Also, even if it were receiving the same amount of sunlight, being further from the anti-solar point (the point directly opposite from the Sun as perceived by the camera) means that the limbs tend to reflect much less light per unit area than those closer to the anti-solar point in any case. (For examples of this natural visual effect known as the “heiligenschein,” try this link among many others: [http://www.universetoday.com/127052/hunting-the-gegenschien/].) These two effects combine to enhance that dimming effect, which can be seen on all of the limbs of Terra & Luna, especially in the areas with cloud cover. Those areas are much brighter directly under the Sun than they are closer to the edges. This is not “filtering,” but natural variation in the reflected light received by the spacecraft’s camera.

    • The moon has an albedo (light reflectivity) similar to coal. Yes, the moon is nearly black! Still, the direct sunlight hitting it is bright enough that even such a dark body looks bright against the night sky. Next to the Earth in the same picture, its relative albedo is clearly seen. It’s not camera filters or any camera trick. This is a true visual representation of the brightness of both bodies.

      • Isn’t the high albedo of the earth another way of saying our home reflects a great deal of energy from the sun? Isn’t this part of the reason the earth is and ideal place for life and the moon is not?

        During the day, the moon is very hot.(253 degrees F), and very cold at night. Both the result of having no atmosphere. Also the ‘day’ on the moon is 13.5 earth days long.

        On earth, excess energy from the sun is reflected away during the day. At night, the atmosphere moderates the radiating of the stored heat. Mostly due to the water vapor contained in our atmosphere.

        Thank goodness for greenhouse gases, particularly water vapor.

  3. While googling to try to understand the satellite’s orbit, I found trojans.

    In astronomy, a trojan is a minor planet or moon that shares the orbit of a planet or larger moon, wherein the trojan remains in the same, stable position relative to the larger object.

    Earth has one natural trojan. Does Triana qualify as a trojan? If it does, is it misnamed?

    • Trojans are at the L4 or L5 Lagrangian points. That is, they are either 60 degrees in front, or behind, the Earth’s path around the Sun. Triana is at the Earth-Sun L1 point, so it is not sharing the Earth’s orbital path, but a path one million miles closer to the Sun.

    • commieBob July 17, 2016 at 3:55 pm
      While googling to try to understand the satellite’s orbit, I found trojans.
      ————————————————–
      Does this help?

      DSCOVR, NOAA’s first deep space satellite, occupies a special orbit. Called Lagrange point 1, or simply L1, this halo like orbit is a neutral gravity point, requiring fewer orbital corrections, allowing DSCOVR to use less fuel and remain in its operational location for much longer.

      L1 orbit keeps DSCOVR directly inline between the sun and Earth at all times. From here the satellite can provide advanced solar measurements and early warnings of potentially dangerous space weather events, acting as a solar storm buoy in deep space.

      Stable orbit at L1 is possible thanks to a wonderful trick of physics. In fact, L1 is not the only one of these special locations around the sun and Earth. There are actually five of them and they can occur between any two massive objects!
      http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/news_archives/points_of_lagrange.html

      • Maybe this helps even more…

        These locations are named after Joseph-Louis Lagrange, the 18th-century mathematician who wrote about them in a 1772 paper explaining what he referred to as the “three-body problem.”

        They occur in space when the combined gravitational forces of two large objects equal the centrifugal force felt by a third smaller object. The interaction of these forces creates a point of equilibrium known as a Lagrange point.

        Think of them as orbital parking spots. Things put at these locations tend to stay there thanks to a balancing act between gravity and the centrifugal force.

        Imagine a spacecraft leaving Earth and rocketing toward the moon. As it hurtles through space, fighting to escape Earth’s gravity, it will experience less and less of its pull. As the rocket nears the moon its gravity will become the dominate force, pulling the spacecraft toward it faster than Earth can pull it back; a sort of cosmic tug-of-war.

        As this transition begins, the spacecraft will experience a moment of neutral gravity when the pull from the moon equals that of Earth’s. When these forces balance against the centrifugal force, which is trying to fling the spacecraft off into space as it obits, they cancel creating a Lagrange point.

        Points of Lagrange are important because they allow for orbital periods equal to Earth’s, even at varying distances.
        http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/news_archives/points_of_lagrange.html#

      • So, place a large enough object at point L1 and it will block out enough of the sun to negate any possible Global Warming or speed up the next Ice Age. No need for useless CO2 emission regulations. Perceived problem solved.

      • Outstanding, Carla.
        Now let’s twist commieBob’s mind into a pretzel. DSCOVR is not at L1 at all. That is a totally unstable location. DSCOVR actually orbits *around* L1 in a halo orbit. Imagine that, orbiting around a point of zero gravity.

      • I think we ought to put a couple of Hubble-type telescopes in orbit, one at the L2 position and one at the L3 position, and network them together into a telescope the size of the orbit of the Earth.

      • Expanding on Carla and TonyL’s replies, while all 5 Lagrange points are gravitationally balanced, L1-L3 are unstable. You can see this in Carla’s diagram: those three points sit atop gravitational “crests” and it doesn’t take much to push an object down either side of the crest into one of the gravity wells. L4 and L5 are a bit more stable, however, as they sit in gravitational “dips”. This is why there are large swarms of asteroids (the trojans) orbiting naturally in Jupiter’s L4 and L5 points (and other planets’ to a lesser extent), but not in the other Lagrange points.

    • That’s because it rotates once every 28 days or so (Wikipedia says 27.321661 days). So over 4 hours, the Moon would rotate about 2.2 degrees. I wouldn’t notice it either.

    • Well sceace-ists reckon it is in very slow rotation, a mere few hundred thousand years but no conclusion can be brought to bare without further funding.Just keep looking at the Moon and taking photographs.
      P.S.
      Juast in case /Sarc.

    • You will not see any rotation as the moon is tidally locked to Earth. The side we see at night always faces earth. The view from the satellite, because of its L1 orbit, will only see the “dark side” of the moon.

    • hmm, so why? is the nearside the one thats taken such a walloping from asteroids..and the far side facing away is nowhere near as battered yet its in what I would have thought a position to take more hits?
      anyone?

      • @ozspeaksup: Actually it is the far side which has taken so much of a beating that it is much more evenly & thoroughly cratered than the near side. Also, being sheltered has protected the so-called “mare” (Latin for “seas”) from getting broken up by such impacts, leaving much of those large primordial lava flows visibly intact. The near side is by NO means crater-free, but it is much less heavily cratered than the far side.

  4. The Moon is so cool. We are so lucky to have it. We (humans) would not exist without it.

    Speaking of the habitable planets in the Goldilocks zone article from a few days ago; Without a moon like we have, our orbit would not have been stable enough to allow complex life-forms to evolve into us without the stabilizing impact provided by the Moon.

    So 4.4 billion years after the Moon was created, we finally arrive. Without it. we don’t arrive and no sentient species capable of understanding the universe and inventing technology evolves. This issue makes intelligent civilisations more rare than we think. The moon was more of a fluke really.

    • I watched the video. Thanks. I knew of L1 and L2, but did not know of L3, L4, and L5. Also there is a vestige of barycentricism. (take note A Watts)

      • @Jay Hope: Yep! L4 & L5 are dynamically stable, while the other three are not.

        That said, orbits of all those points are useful for easy, long-term station-keeping for spacecraft, but at the same time none of them are stable enough for objects to remain in indefinitely without some station-keeping ability. This is why the media is able to periodically announce the discovery of a brand new “second Moon;” none of those stick around for very long even in the L4/L5 points due to perturbations from the other planets.

    • Do they still talk about such things on late night talk radio? Only reruns of Art Bell from what I find.

  5. “… showing the moon moving over the Indian and Pacific oceans. The North Pole is at the top of the images.”

    Apparently, NOAA thinks everyone is ignorant.

    • @ Christopher Lafond: Not so, despite the short time period involved in this observation (<5 hours). While the major cloud/weather patterns remained relatively unchanged, I checked for variations in the smaller details, and was able to find a number of cloud patterns that did change noticeably over the course of the loop. It only took me a couple of minutes to find such examples, so I'm satisfied that this isn't, e.g., just a static, generated image which was then given the appearance of rotation.

  6. The Moon appears to be rather close to the Earth in the image at the top. I thought it was much farther away.

    • @Jbird: Long story short: perspective is a crazy thing.

      Remember that this image is very much magnified from the satellite’s perspective. Luna is only about 27% of the Terra’s diameter, but if you hold a ruler up to your screen, you’ll notice that it only takes ~3 Lunar diameters to span the apparent diameter of Terra as it appears in these pictures. Because the Moon is ~400,000km closer to the spacecraft (~25% of the distance from the spacecraft to the Earth), the Moon seems to cover more of the Earth than it “should” because it’s closer to the satellite taking the pictures than the Earth.

      Put another way, if the two bodies were at the same distance from the camera, the difference in size between the two would be even more pronounced than it appears here. Of course, if they were both at the same distance from the camera, we’d be seeing all 400,000 km of the space between the two as well… in fact that’s about ALL we’d see, as the 30+ Earth diameters’/110+ Lunar diameters’ distance between the two gets a bit difficult to fit into one viewfinder without shrinking the objects themselves almost beyond recognition!

      • Hadn’t yet done it, but it would have been easy to fairly estimate the spacecraft’s distance from Earth from the video, given the knowns you ticked off and simple plane geometry.

  7. Just another computer animation. Look at the clouds, they remain stationary for the whole time. It is not a real image. It is just another fake put out by NASA

    • No, it’s not a fake. You have to look carefully. Focus on one spot as the Earth rotates, the clouds do in fact move. You have to remember that as a matter of scale, the clouds move far, far slower than the moon and rotation of the Earth, so it makes it difficult to pick out the motion when everything is moving.

      Earth rotates at approximately 1040 mph
      Ref: http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/ask/a10840.html
      Clouds might manage 40 mph

      Picking out a 40 mph motion while everything else is going 1000 mph faster is a tough job visually, but I was able to do it with just a little concentration because I know what to look for.

      • Anthony Watts July 18, 2016 at 9:25 am
        ——————————————————-

        Thanks Anthony.

        A description of the eclipse shadow animation as seen earlier this year, by DSCOVR.

        http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=87675&eocn=home&eoci=iotd_image

        “”The animation above was assembled from 13 images acquired on March 9, 2016, by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four-megapixel charge-coupled device (CCD) and Cassegrain telescope on the DSCOVR satellite. Click on the link below the animation to download the individual images from the series.
        “What is unique for us is that being near the Sun-Earth line, we follow the complete passage of the lunar shadow from one edge of the Earth to the other,” said Adam Szabo, NASA’s project scientist for DSCOVR. “A geosynchronous satellite would have to be lucky to have the middle of an eclipse at noon local time for it. I am not aware of anybody ever capturing the full eclipse in one set of images or video.”
        In this, the only total solar eclipse of 2016, the shadow of the new Moon starts crossing the Indian Ocean and marches past Indonesia and Australia into the open waters and islands of Oceania (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia) and the Pacific Ocean. Note how the shadow moves in the same direction as Earth rotates. The bright spot in the center of each disk is sunglint—the reflection of sunlight directly back at the EPIC camera.””

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