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 Thin films from Braunschweig on the way to Mercury
19.10.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Schicht- und Oberflächentechnik IST

nachricht Extremely close look at electron advances frontiers in particle physics
19.10.2018 | National Science Foundation

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: Goodbye, silicon? On the way to new electronic materials with metal-organic networks

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.

Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...

Im Focus: Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"

Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles

Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...

Im Focus: Disrupting crystalline order to restore superfluidity

When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.

We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...

Im Focus: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden scientists print electronic layers with polymer ink

Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...

Im Focus: Dynamik einzelner Proteine

Neue Messmethode erlaubt es Forschenden, die Bewegung von Molekülen lange und genau zu verfolgen

Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Conference to pave the way for new therapies

17.10.2018 | Event News

Berlin5GWeek: Private industrial networks and temporary 5G connectivity islands

16.10.2018 | Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanocages in the lab and in the computer: how DNA-based dendrimers transport nanoparticles

19.10.2018 | Life Sciences

Thin films from Braunschweig on the way to Mercury

19.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

App-App-Hooray! - Innovative Kits for AR Applications

19.10.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>