Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter brings 'earthrise' to everyone

20.04.2012
Imagine yourself in orbit, your spacecraft flying backward with its small window facing down toward the surface of the moon. You peer out, scouring the ash-colored contours of the cratered landscape for traces of ancient volcanic activity. Around you, the silent, velvety blackness of space stretches out in every direction.

The spacecraft rolls over, and you glimpse a sliver of intense light starting to climb over the rough horizon. It might be dawn, except that the bright sliver quickly morphs into an arc of dazzling white swirled with vivid blue and then rises far enough to be recognized as the brilliant, marbled Earth. Captured on film, this breathtaking view becomes the iconic photograph "Earthrise."

On December 24, 1968, three people saw this happen firsthand: Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman and crew members William A. Anders and James A. Lovell, Jr. Now, in honor of Earth Day 2012, the rest of us can see what that was like in a new NASA visualization, which draws on richly detailed maps of the moon's surface made from data gathered by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

"This visualization recreates for everyone the wondrous experience of seeing Earth from that privileged viewpoint," says LRO Project Scientist Rich Vondrak of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

At the time of the famous photo, Apollo 8 was rounding the moon for the fourth time, traveling in a nearly circular orbit about 110 kilometers (68 miles) above the moon's surface at about a mile per second. "The spacecraft was pointed down to look at the moon's surface, because Anders was conducting an extensive photographic survey," explains James Rice, an astrogeologist at Goddard. "But Lovell needed to perform a navigation sighting, so Borman rolled the spacecraft." That's when Earth abruptly appeared.

To recreate this scene, NASA animator Ernie Wright reconstructed the orbit in software, using coordinates from an Apollo 8 mission report and photographs taken by the crew. "Apollo 8 was at 11 degrees south latitude and between 118 and 114 east longitude, with a westward view," says Wright. "The floor of Pasteur crater is visible in the foreground of the photograph."

Wright rendered the crisp contours of the moonscape using high-resolution topography data from LRO's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, which has provided the most precise and complete maps to date of the moon's complex, heavily cratered terrain.

The Earth shown in the visualization is not an exact duplication of what the astronauts saw but a mosaic of more recent images taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (known as MODIS) instrument on the Terra satellite and assembled by NASA's Visible Earth team.

The narration in the visualization comes from the original audio recording of the Apollo 8 astronauts, their commentary on the task at hand interrupted as they react to the sudden sighting of Earth. "Oh my God!" an astronaut calls out. "Look at that picture over there!"

A black-and-white image is snapped with one of the Hasselblad cameras on board, capturing the very first picture of Earth taken by a human in orbit around the moon. The crew then scrambles to get a color picture, which is taken 58 seconds after the black-and-white photo.

The color image, which simultaneously captures Earth's bold vitality and its fragility, is later named "Earthrise" and has been reproduced countless times, including a U.S. postage stamp issued on May 5, 1969. This popularity earned the photo the featured spot on the cover of Life's book "100 Photographs that Changed the World," in which wilderness photographer Galen Rowell deemed it "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken."

LRO and LOLA were built and are managed by NASA Goddard. The research was funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. The visualizations were created at Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio.

For more information on LRO and the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, visit: http://lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov

For more information on Apollo 8, visit: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/masterCatalog.do?sc=1968-118A

For more information about NASA's Visible Earth, visit: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=57735

Nancy Neal-Jones | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov

Further reports about: Earth's magnetic field Orbiter Reconnaissance laser system lunar base

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers
20.09.2017 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices
19.09.2017 | Graphene Flagship

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>