The camera aboard NASA and NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured images of the moon as it passed in front of the sunlit side of the Earth for the second time.
“For the second time in the life of DSCOVR, the moon moved between the spacecraft and Earth,” said Adam Szabo, a DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in a press release. “The project recorded this event on July 5 with the same cadence and spatial resolution as the first ‘lunar photobomb’ of last year.”
The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) onboard DSCOVR is a four-megapixel charge coupled device (CCD) camera and telescope that is orbiting at one million miles (1,609,344 kilometers) from Earth at L1 orbit. The mission of DSCOVR is to study the real-time solar wind for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the satellite is strategically placed between the Earth and Sun. Meanwhile, EPIC is in constant view of the Earth by monitoring the ozone, cloud height, aerosols, and vegetation in the atmosphere.
The images shown were taken on July 4th at 11:50 p.m. EDT through July 5th at 3:18 a.m. EDT. The Moon moves over first the Pacific Ocean showing Australia, then into the Indian Ocean on its way past Asia with the North Pole at the top of the images. The last time EPIC took similar images was on July 16th, 2015 between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m EDT.
The satellite is orbiting around the Sun-Earth system at the first Lagrange point, which is where the gravitational pull from the Sun is equal and opposite to that of the Earth. The orbit changes from elliptical to circular and back again in an orbit called a Lissajous orbit. DSCOVR, in its orbit, intersects the Moon’s orbit approximately four times a year, but only appears between the Earth and the satellite only twice in a year.
The video of the moon’s transit across the Earth can be seen below.