Israel’s first, private lunar lander is on its way to the Moon after a successful launch onboard the SpaceX Nusantara Satu mission. If our lander makes it to the lunar surface, Israel will be the fourth nation to land on the Moon, and the first country to land SpaceIL‘s privately built spacecraft.
Those grainy Moon photos the public saw back in the early days of NASA’s Moon missions were a ruse!
No, not that ruse. Humans really went to the Moon. The ruse is that NASA actually captured much higher resolution images, but didn’t disclose them publicly because they didn’t want the Soviets to know how good their imaging technology was at the time.
Fifty years ago, 5 unmanned lunar orbiters circled the moon, taking extremely high resolution photos of the surface. They were trying to find the perfect landing site for the Apollo missions. They would be good enough to blow up to 40 x 54ft images that the astronauts would walk across looking for the great spot. After their use, the images were locked away from the public until after the bulk of the moon landings, as at the time they would have revealed the superior technology of the USA’s spy satellite cameras, which the orbiters cameras were designed from. The main worry was the USSR gaining valuable information about landing sites that the US wanted to use. In 1971 many of the images were released, but nowhere near to their potential quality, and mainly to an academic audience as public interest in the moon had waned. Up until 2008 most of the reported images from the project were the 1966 versions that were grainy and lower quality.
Enceladus is Saturn’s 6th largest moon and it’s covered by ice. It turns out that there is a watery ocean under that ice. According to an article in Nature titled “Icy Enceladus hides a watery ocean“:
Planetary scientists have found an ocean buried beneath the south pole of the Saturnian moon Enceladus by studying tiny anomalies in the flybys of the Cassini spacecraft. The discovery, which helps to explain earlier observations of geysers, makes Enceladus only the fourth Solar System body found to have a water ocean — making it a potential cradle for life.
In 2005, NASA’s Cassini spotted a plume of water vapour and ice spraying from the south pole of the 500-kilometre-wide body. The new findings show the likely source of this water: a 10-kilometre-thick layer of liquid — similar to the depth of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in Earth’s oceans — covering much of Enceladus’s southern hemisphere and capped by 30 to 40 kilometres of ice.
If you are a space geek, add the Ars interview to your “Watch Later” list and enjoy at your convenience:
NASA released images of the Moon passing over the Earth that looks unreal … literally. We are used to photos of the Moon from our vantage point down here and on its own. This almost looks like an illustration, especially when you consider that the side of the Moon we see in this photo is the “dark side” we almost never see from Earth.
This animation still image shows the far side of the moon, illuminated by the sun, as it crosses between the DISCOVR spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) camera and telescope, and the Earth – one million miles away.
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).
The blog post explains that the photos are actually composites from “three separate monochrome exposures taken by the camera in quick succession”. The Flickr post also mentioned that the telescope that took these photos with a four megapixel CCD camera! I was wondering about the colour distortion on the right edge of the Moon (more visible in the still photo) and the post explains as follows:
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 the 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.
The Moon looked particularly enticing this morning and I grabbed my camera and tripod and rushed outside and took a couple photos. They’re not quite the huge Moon you often see from better zoom lenses but these came out ok.