A new video has been released that shows the moon and Earth as we have never seen them before. The images, sent by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, recorded the moon orbiting our planet for the first time ever.
Juno, a Jupiter-bound spacecraft, was launched in August this year. However, its rocket was only capable of getting it to the asteroid belt. In October, to boost its speed, NASA’s craft stole a little bit of Earth’s energy.
The Earth ‘flyby gravity assist’, a sort of gravitational slingshot, involved the spacecraft flying close to Earth to receive a boost in speed of more than 8,800 mph (about 7.3 kilometres per second). This set it on course for a July 4, 2016, rendezvous with Jupiter.
One of Juno’s sensors, a special kind of camera optimised to track faint stars, gave us the intriguing, low-resolution glimpse of what our world would look like to a visitor from afar.
The cameras that took the images are located near the pointed tip of one of the spacecraft’s three solar-array arms. They are part of Juno’s Magnetic Field Investigation (MAG) and are normally used to determine the orientation of the magnetic sensors.
During the flyby, timing was everything. Juno was travelling about twice as fast as a typical satellite, and the spacecraft itself was spinning at 2 rpm. To assemble a movie that wouldn’t make viewers dizzy, the star tracker had to capture a frame each time the camera was facing Earth at exactly the right moment. The frames were then sent to Earth, where they were processed into video format.