A Chinese satellite orbiting Earth’s moon has been snapping some amazing images from the lunar far side, otherwise known as the “dark side of the moon.”
Longjiang-2, also known as DSLWP-B, is one of two microsatellites China launched to the moon last year to prepare for the arrival of its Chang’e 4 lander-rover combo mission, which touched down on the far side of the moon on Jan. 3. Its sister satellite, Longjiang-1, failed to achieve orbit, whereas Longjiang-2 has been successfully orbiting and observing the moon since May 2018.
A new photo captured by Longjiang-2 on Monday (Feb. 4) reveals the so-called “dark side of the moon” basking in sunlight as Earth photobombs the moon in the background. The term “dark side” is really a misnomer for the moon’s far side — just because we can’t see the far side from Earth, doesn’t mean that the sun never shines there. Longjiang-2 captured this photo during the new moon, when the Earth-facing side of the moon was completely dark and the far side was entirely illuminated instead.
Longjiang-2 beams photos of the moon back to Earth via the Dwingeloo Radio Observatory in the Netherlands, where astronomers have volunteered to help China’s space agency receive the images using the observatory’s super-sensitive radio antenna.
(Earth photobombs the far side of the moon in this color-corrected photo)
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