Friday, July 18, 2008

Looking at home from 30 million miles away

NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has created a video of the moon transiting (passing in front of) Earth as seen from the spacecraft's point of view 50 million kilometers (31 million miles) away.

"Making a video of Earth from so far away helps the search for other life-bearing planets in the Universe by giving insights into how a distant, Earth-like alien world would appear to us,"

-- Michael A’Hearn,
astronomer, University of Maryland, principal investigator for the Deep Impact extended mission, called Epoxi.

During the video, the moon enters the frame and transits Earth, and then leaves the frame. Other spacecraft have imaged Earth and the moon from space, but Deep Impact is the first to show a transit of Earth.

"To image Earth in a similar fashion, an alien civilization would need technology far beyond what Earthlings can even dream of building,"

--Sara Seager, a planetary theorist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., and a co-investigator on Epoxi.

"Our video shows some specific features that are important for observations of Earth-like planets orbiting other stars,"

--Drake Deming of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Deming is deputy principal investigator for Epoxi.

1 Earthling’s comments:

Renegade Eye said...

Really cool.

One of these days, I want to post about the "big bang" theory.

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