Japan?s Kaguya lunar orbiter hasbeamed home a spectacular movie of Earth eclipsing the sun as seen from themoon.
Kaguya caughtthe stunning sight on Feb. 10 and used its high definition camera to recordthe moment when the Earth looked like a diamond ring.
This HDTV moment in time and space came when a penumbrallunar eclipse occurred and the view of the sun from the Kaguyawas mostly covered by the Earth, thus the Earthlooked like a diamond ring. The moon?s limb, hidden by darkness, obscures part of the lowerportion of the ring.
According to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)officials, this is the first time that this phenomenon was shot from the moon. JAXAoperates Kaguya, which launched toward the moonin September 2007.
Eclipses occur when the sun, Earth and moon are lined upperfectly. At full moon, there can be a lunar eclipse, as seen from Earth.At new moon, there can be a solar eclipse. Because the moon orbits Earth in aplane slightly offset compared to the plane of Earth?s orbit around the sun,eclipses don?t occur every month, however. And when we?re having a lunareclipse, anyone on the moon, at least if they?re in the right spot, could seethe sun blocked by Earth.
Kaguya project manager Susumu Sasaki hasnoted that the orbiter will continueits observations until early 2009 using the main orbiter on the same orbitof 62 miles (100 km) in altitude above the Moon. Kaguyacarried a pair of smaller microsatellites to the moonwhen it launched. Those smaller craft were deployed shortly after it enteredlunar orbit.
The spacecraft will then lower its altitude sometime inspring to perform higher accuracy and new additionalobservations on the Moon's magnetic fields, plasma environment, and make othermeasurements. The plan is to drop the main orbiter on the near side of theMoon before the summer of 2009.
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