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Earth Moon Space Science

Earth's Libration Visualized For the First Time Above the Moon's Far Side 33

StartsWithABang writes Thanks to the fact that the Moon is tidally locked, we can only see 50% of its surface on any given night. Over time, the fact that the Moon's orbit is elliptical, and that it moves faster at perigee and slower at apogee means that up to another 9% is visible over the course of many years. The observed "rocking" and growing/shrinking of the Moon over time is known as lunar libration, an incredibly interesting phenomenon. But now, for the first time, we've been able to visualize how the Earth appears to move as seen from above the far side of the Moon.
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Earth's Libration Visualized For the First Time Above the Moon's Far Side

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  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Saturday February 07, 2015 @06:54PM (#49008091)
    I thought that was moonshine liberating me.
  • So, I wanted to poo poo this stupid phrase. But hey, it is interesting. RTFA.

    • Thanks to the fact that the Moon is tidally locked, we can only see 50% of it's surface on any given night.

      "No one quite knows where the moon came from, but it's as old as the Earth, or very nearly. And it's survived this long because it has the most perfect defence system ever evolved. It's Tidally Locked. It doesn't exist when it's being observed. The moment it's seen by any other living creature it freezes into rock. In the sight of any living thing, it literally turns into stone. And you can't kill a stone. Of course, a stone can't kill you either, but then you turn your head away. Then you blink. Then, oh y

      • I love Doctor Who, but I'm pretty sure you can kill a stone with a hammer and chisel, or a jackhammer if you're pressed for time, or with TNT if you're really in a hurry.
  • by Cliff Stoll ( 242915 ) on Saturday February 07, 2015 @07:54PM (#49008353) Homepage

    From 1964 through around 1975, planetary astronomers at Tucson's Lunar & Planetary Laboratory used physical models to project and remap the moon's surface. They took high resolution photos through an earth based telescope, and then projected the images onto a spherical, white plaster globe. By carefully controlling the geometry, and knowing distances, angles, and (yes) lunar libation, they created detailed maps of the moon's near side, taking into account geometric distortion around the limbs. In this way, they could rephotograph parts of the lunar far-side.

    The rectified lunar atlas can now be seen at https://www.lpl.arizona.edu/si... [arizona.edu]

    This was all done using telescopes, photographs, and optical projection ... all analog, earth-based work. (the main telescope was the 61" reflector at Mt. Bigelow in Tucson; the films were Kodak 3-AJ 10x10inch glass plates)

    It was my honor to work with several of these astronomers, including Ewen Whitaker, Gerard Kuiper, Bill Hartmann, and Bob Strom. Brilliant scientists who would be astounded and impressed to see those NASA/Goddard videos. What we take for granted today, once required several years of detailed work.

    • I was reading some works of hartmann just the other day! Hes one of my favorites. it must have been simply amazing getting to speak with him, let alone work with him
    • now we use software like "ISIS3" and "Stereo-pipeline" to map the LRO images
      and the naif spice kernels for orbits ( the earth and moon are in "de430.bsp" )
      this leads to being able to run that video in the SIM "Celestia"

      • cel://SyncOrbit/Sol:Earth:Moon/2015-02-08T03:17:32.13587?x=X0B5XeUyV////////////w&y=5sD7HnFLAw&z=dSp0ZVL6Ag&ow=0.706925&ox=0.0083696&oy=0.707185&oz=0.00877295&select=Sol:Earth:Moon&fov=17.7562&ts=1000&ltd=0&p=0&rf=71079831&lm=6278&tsrc=0&ver=3

  • by joe_frisch ( 1366229 ) on Saturday February 07, 2015 @11:59PM (#49009179)

    I would much prefer that we record, rather than have to simulate effects like this.

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )

      What purpose would that serve, except burn a bunch of money ?

      • I'm sad to say THIS!

        I wish we were in a world where it would cost next to nothing to go out and look ourselves, but with detailed view of what the moon looks like and the good understanding we have of orbital mechanics, a mission like this would be of zero scientific value.

        • I wasn't suggesting a mission just to measure this (which of course can be simulated), but rather that it would be something that could easily be recorded form one of the many existing missions(or maybe tourist hotels) that would be distributed throughout the solar system.

  • But now, for the first time, we've been able to visualize how the Earth appears to move as seen from above the far side of the Moon.

    We've been able to do this for decades. If this really is the first time - and I'm not inclined to take medium.com's* word on that - then it's more a case of "the first time someone could be bothered."

    * how many exclamation marks? Jesus.

    • Correct. you can do this in Orbiter Space Flight Simulator [ucl.ac.uk] by playing with the Camera settings and speeding up the time dilation.

      Far Side "Earth Liberation" Instructions:

      • - Hit F4 to bring up the Main Menu
      • - Click Camera
      • - Set Target to Moon
      • - Click Apply
      • - Hold Z to reduce the FoV down to the lowest degree, then pan out with the mouse wheel
      • - Make sure View Mode is set to "target-relative" (indication in the upper left) if not, hit F2 until it does
      • - Rotate your view around to the far side of the moon until you

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