High-Definition Imagery of Earth Shot from Space

High-Definition Imagery of Earth Shot from Space
The high-definition video of Earth was processed into this still image. The west coast of South America is visible in the lower left portion of the planet. (Image credit: JAXA/NHK)

The first high-definition video of Earth from beyond the planet's orbit has just beenmade by a Japanese satellite on its way to the moon.

The imagery was taken by the lunar explorer Kaguya, launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Sept. 14 (Japan Standard Time). The onboard high-definition television, developed by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, captured the eight-minute video about 68,350 miles (110,000 kilometers) away from Earth.

The video has not been released, but in a still shot taken from the footage, the west coast of South America is seen, awash in daylight.

Kaguya is Japan's first lunar explorer. It is also known as SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer) and is the largest lunar mission since the Apollo program. Kaguya will investigate the entire moon in order to determine its chemical composition, surface and subsurface structure, the remnants of its magnetic field and its gravity field.

The results are expected to lead to a better understanding of the moon's origin and evolution. In addition, the onboard observation equipment will shed light on the electromagnetic field and high-energy particles that humans potentially would be exposed to during human space missions.

The video was taken Sept. 29 Japan time and received at the JAXA Usuda Deep Space Center on Sept. 30.

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Jeanna Bryner
Jeanna is the managing editor for LiveScience, a sister site to SPACE.com. Before becoming managing editor, Jeanna served as a reporter for LiveScience and SPACE.com for about three years. Previously she was an assistant editor at Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a Master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a science journalism degree from New York University. To find out what her latest project is, you can follow Jeanna on Google+.