What does the other side of the moon like? Thanks to NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio and data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we get a glimpse in this animation, showcasing two different virtual views. From NASA:
Just like the near side, the far side goes through a complete cycle of phases. But the terrain of the far side is quite different. It lacks the large dark spots, called maria, that make up the familiar Man in the Moon on the near side. Instead, craters of all sizes crowd together over the entire far side. The far side is also home to one of the largest and oldest impact features in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin, visible here as a slightly darker bruise covering the bottom third of the disk.
The far side was first seen in a handful of grainy images returned by the Soviet Luna 3 probe, which swung around the Moon in October, 1959. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched fifty years later, and since then it has returned hundreds of terabytes of data, allowing LRO scientists to create extremely detailed and accurate maps of the far side. Those maps were used to create the imagery seen here.
Be sure to visit NASA SVS’ Moon Phase and Libration, 2015 Dial-a-Moon, which lets you view the moon from Earth at any specific month, day, and hour.
Some of our favorite videos are thanks to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Watch those next, and these: NASA SVS’ Our View of the Moon Over the Entire Year, and Veritasium’s How Far Away is the Moon?
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