By Fiona MacDonald, ScienceAlert, Aug 6, 2015 – NASA has just released one of the most stunning GIFs we’ve ever seen, and it sure does put our lives into some much-needed perspective. Watch to see the Moon’s far side, which faces away from us, as our little lunar satellite orbits in front of our planet. The whole thing was captured by the appropriately named EPIC (Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera) on board the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite.
The DSCOVR satellite was launched in February and is currently hanging out in the Lagrange Point 1 – a point between Earth and the Sun where the gravitational pulls of the two objects cancel each other out – around 1.6 million km away (1 million miles).
It’s there to monitor space weather and get a better idea of how we can forecast activity such as solar flares that may affect Earth. But it’s also taking lots of photos of Earth’s sunny side while it’s at it, to measure aerosol and ozone levels in our atmosphere, as well as cloud height and UV reflectivity.
Already the satellite has given us the first whole picture of Earth taken since 1972. And now this GIF, captured by a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope, offers us even more reason to be awe-inspired.
The distance that this photo was taken at also makes it pretty unique, as Sean O’Kane writes for The Verge: “If you’re wondering why it looks so different from the famous ‘Earthrise’ photo, that’s because DSCOVR is located one million miles [1.6 million km] from Earth. The far side of the Moon, where Earthrise was taken from, is roughly 240,000 miles away [386,000 km]. How’s that for cosmic perspective?”