NASA has changed the way that humans are able view the Moon. Of course, people can go outside and look up to see the Moon with their own eyes almost every night. However, due to the rotation and orbit of the Moon, the same side of it is always visible to those on earth. Many have come to call that other side, the one that cannot be seen from earth, “the dark side.” Now, in a newly released video from NASA, the dark side of the Moon is revealed for the average onlooker.
NASA states, “Just like the near side, the far side goes through a complete cycle of phases.” These phases just happen at a different time than the phases viewed from earth. The dark side (also called the far side) is also incredibly different in the layout of its terrain. It does not have the same large basalt plains that are found on the near side. The dark side, however, does have a large number of craters. On the bottom one-third of the dark side of the moon there is an enormous crater, called the South Pole-Aitken basin. It exists as a result of some sort of impact that happened long ago in the Moon’s history.
A probe called Soviet Luna 3 took a look at the dark side of the Moon for the first time back in the year 1959. Astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission took the first photographs. Then, starting in 2009, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been snapping pictures of the Moon. It is partly thanks to LRO that NASA has been able to construct this newly released video that reveals the previously hidden dark side of the Moon.
The LRO is a robotic mission, meaning that it was sent into space without any humans on board. Its purpose is cartography, to map the surface of the Moon. It is also being used to help with the general development of human knowledge about the earth’s solar system.
NASA’s LRO has been incredibly useful to scientists thus far. It have helped to reveal new information about volcanic activity on the Moon. It has also produced information on how the features that make up the “Man in the Moon” were formed. The LRO additionally discovered that hydrogen deposits are abundant near the poles of the Moon. This is of interest to many in the scientific community because the hydrogen deposits could eventually be mined to produce both water and rocket fuel.
The new video of the Moon is a two-minute simulation put together by scientists and published by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on February 4, 2015. Less than twenty-five people have been able to look at the dark side of the Moon in person. With this simulation, however, those stuck here on earth can get a glimpse of what the dark side might look like from space.
Want to take a look at the Moon in a way that it can never been seen from earth? Then check out the video below and NASA’s newly revealed dark side of the Moon.
By Emilee Prado
Photo by Jody Roberts – Flickr License