What an Earthrise Looks Like from the Surface of the Moon

By Casey Chan on at

Wow. A million wows, really. Here’s a truly spectacular image from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, showing Earth in all its glory from the perspective of someone on the surface of the Moon. It’s an Earthrise and it’s just gorgeous and amazing to be able to “see” it. The image was “composed from a series of images taken Oct. 12, when LRO was about 83 miles above the moon’s farside crater Compton.”

According to NASA, the LRO actually experiences 12 earthrises every day but it’s so busy doing other things it doesn’t get a chance to enjoy the view of the earthrise. NASA writes:

In this composite image we see Earth appear to rise over the lunar horizon from the viewpoint of the spacecraft, with the centre of the Earth just off the coast of Liberia (at 4.04 degrees North, 12.44 degrees West). The large tan area in the upper right is the Sahara Desert, and just beyond is Saudi Arabia. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America are visible to the left. On the moon, we get a glimpse of the crater Compton, which is located just beyond the eastern limb of the moon, on the lunar farside.


Capturing an image of the Earth and moon with LRO’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) instrument is a complicated task. First the spacecraft must be rolled to the side (in this case 67 degrees), then the spacecraft slews with the direction of travel to maximize the width of the lunar horizon in LROC’s Narrow Angle Camera image. All this takes place while LRO is travelling faster than 3,580 miles per hour (over 1,600 metres per second) relative to the lunar surface below the spacecraft!

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