NASA’s video projections of the Dark Side of the Moon present our familiar lunar surface in a whole new light.
When we aren’t referring to the Pink Floyd album, the term “Dark Side of the Moon” simply refers to a side of the Moon we cannot see. As the Moon orbits Earth, one half of it always faces toward us, while the “dark” side always faces away. It’s technically not even that dark – the Moon still rotates as it moves around the Earth, giving a chance for the sun’s light to strike it. But it’s something anyone bound on Earth probably won’t get a chance to see, which is why NASA recently provided a computer-generated time-lapsed video of what the Moon’s surface looks like from the other side.
Thanks to photos taken by astronauts and satellites from 1959 to today, NASA actually has quite a few visuals of the Moon’s other half. Tens of thousands of visuals, in fact. From these, NASA constructed computer-generated projections of what it looks like the entire way around, even releasing it in video form for the general public. The end result is familiar and strange at the same time – the “Man on the Moon” asteroid impact craters aren’t in their familiar places, and are replaced by distinctive dark spots called maria.
The Moon’s light side has maria as well, although we don’t fuss about it since it’s such a familiar sight. Astronomers once suspected maria were everything from asteroid impacts to lunar seas, but more recent research suggests they’re actually volcanic plains. The maria from the Moon’s dark side, for example, is likely the result of ancient magma flooding that we once considered impossible on a lunar surface.
While none of this information is exactly new knowledge, putting it to video like this certainly puts the Moon in a new light. (Sorry.) Still, how cool is it to have the same moon for all of human history and still be learning new things about it?
Source: Washington Post