Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA's LRO Mission and North America to Experience Total Lunar Eclipse

09.04.2014

When people in North America look up at the sky in the early morning hours of April 15, they can expect the moon to look a little different.

A total lunar eclipse is expected at this time, a phenomenon that occurs when the Earth, moon and sun are in perfect alignment, blanketing the moon in the Earth's shadow.


Artist concept of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter with Apollo mission imagery of the moon in the background. Image Credit: NASA

Although lunar eclipses happen multiple times in a year during a full moon, this eclipse will be a particularly unusual viewing opportunity for North America. Since the Earth's Western Hemisphere will be facing the moon during the eclipse, the continent will be in prime position to view it from start to finish. In addition, the eclipse will coincide with nighttime in North America. The entire continent won't be able to witness a full lunar eclipse in its entirety again until 2019.

"Sometimes they'll happen and you'll have to be somewhere else on Earth to see them," said Noah Petro, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter deputy project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Most [residents] of the continental United States will be able to see the whole thing."

... more about:
»Eclipse »LRO »NASA »Orbiter »Reconnaissance »Space »lunar »orbits »spacecraft »watch

For those who are awake to watch the eclipse, which is scheduled to begin around 2:00 a.m. EDT and last over three hours, Petro said there would be several changes people can witness. When the moon first enters the Earth's partial shadow, know as the penumbra, a dark shadow will begin creeping across the moon. This will give the illusion that the moon is changing phases in a matter of minutes instead of weeks.

"Eventually there will be a chunk of darkness eating the moon," Petro said.  

At the eclipse's peak, around 3:45 a.m. EDT, the moon will enter the Earth's full shadow, the umbra. At this stage, the Earth's atmosphere will scatter the sun's red visible light, the same process that turns the sky red at sunset. As a result, the red light will reflect off the moon's surface, casting a reddish rust hue over it.

"It's a projection of all the Earth's sunsets and sunrises onto the moon," Petro said. "It's a very subtle effect, and if any part of the moon is illuminated in the sun, you can't really see it."

Although lunar eclipses are fairly common, Petro said they don't happen every month. Because the moon's orbit is tilted, it doesn't pass through the Earth's shadow each time it orbits the planet. This is the same reason why solar eclipses—which occur when the Earth passes through the moon's shadow—don't occur monthly.

Petro said lunar eclipses are a special treat people should take the opportunity to watch, even if it is at a late hour.

"They don't happen all the time, and the sky has to be clear," Petro said. "It really gives you a chance to look at the moon changing."  

In addition to being a spectacle for North America residents, Petro said NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) team would be paying particular attention to this eclipse. The LRO mission, which is currently orbiting the moon, will be plunged into darkness for an extended period during the eclipse. Because the spacecraft's batteries need sunlight to charge, it will be forced to run without recharging longer than usual.

"The spacecraft will be going straight from the moon's shadow to the Earth's shadow while it orbits during the eclipse," Petro said.

While this isn't the first time LRO has orbited the moon during an eclipse, its past orbits have allowed it to pass into Earth's shadow only for a short period. This time, the spacecraft will have to pass through the complete shadow twice before the eclipse ends. However, Petro said the team expects the spacecraft to make it through the eclipse without a hitch.

"We're taking precautions to make sure everything is fine," Petro said. "We're turning off the instruments and will monitor the spacecraft every few hours when it's visible from Earth."

Although LRO would be forced to shut down its instruments for this eclipse, Petro said other lunar eclipses are a great opportunity for the mission to study how the lunar surface cools during these events, giving insight into the materials making up the surface.

While people watch the moon change in the sky April 15, the LRO team will be ready.

"For quite a while, people in LRO have been analyzing what's going to happen during this eclipse," Petro said. "We'll make sure the world knows LRO survived with no problems."

For more information about NASA's LRO mission, visit:

www.nasa.gov/lro

Claire Saravia
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/north-america-to-experience-total-lunar-eclipse/#.U0RfQVdduac

Further reports about: Eclipse LRO NASA Orbiter Reconnaissance Space lunar orbits spacecraft watch

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale
23.04.2018 | Academy of Finland

nachricht On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve
23.04.2018 | Lobachevsky University

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: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Clean and Efficient – Fraunhofer ISE Presents Hydrogen Technologies at the HANNOVER MESSE 2018

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>