The first grainy partial photo of Earth from space was taken on October 24, 1946, using a 35mm camera attached to a German V-2 missile. The first full view of our planet was taken 26 years later, on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft. Jump forward another 43 years and we now have another image to top both of these: a look at the legendary far side of the moon—with Earth looming large in the background.
The video was produced by NASA, using mapping data gathered by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite, and with a helping hand from state-of-the-art CGI. While we’ve seen images of the moon’s far side before, this is the first time we’ve ever glimpsed such a compelling time-lapse.
“Just like the near side, the far side goes through a complete cycle of phases,” NASA explains in a press release. “But the terrain of the far side is quite different. It lacks the large dark spots, called maria, that make up the familiar Man in the Moon on the near side. Instead, craters of all sizes crowd together over the entire far side. The far side is also home to one of the largest and oldest impact features in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin, visible here as a slightly darker bruise covering the bottom third of the disk.”
Well, that settles it, then. And you just thought the dark side of the moon was a tremendous Pink Floyd album!