Trippy space photo shows distant Earth behind the far side of the moon

Check out the far side of the moon, with Earth on the bottom right.
Check out the far side of the moon, with Earth on the bottom right.

Image: MingChuan Wei/Harbin Institute of Technology

A Chinese satellite swooped behind the moon and snapped a shot of two worlds: the heavily-cratered moon, and in the distance, the cloud-covered planet Earth. 

The image, captured on February 3, shows the far side of the moon that us Earthlings never see. The moon is locked in orbit to Earth, meaning that the same side of the moon is always facing us. But as the image shows, the moon’s far side is often illuminated by the sun, exposing the impact-blasted, grey lunar desert.

Meanwhile, some 239,000 miles away, clouds swirl over Earth’s lands and oceans, and life goes on.

The moon and Earth

The moon and Earth

Image: MINGCHUAN WEI/HARBIN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

The satellite responsible, DSLWP, is a 20-inch tall “microsatellite” built by Chinese astronomers. This moon-orbiting technology is not associated with any government space agency, so it falls into the category of an “amateur” satellite — though it’s certainly capable of sophisticated science and maneuvering through space.

A student-built camera took the shot, which was then beamed via radio antennae to the 82-foot wide Dwingeloo Radio Telescope in the northeastern Netherlands. 

Craters on the far side of the moon

Craters on the far side of the moon

Image: Tammo Jan/Dwingeloo Radio Telescope

The heavily-cratered far side of the moon leaves evidence of the chaotic early solar system wherein rocky bodies pummeled the moon and planets. Things have certainly calmed down since then, allowing life to thrive on the blue ocean-world that is Earth.

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