Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images August 21 solar eclipse

This process, which forms an image line by line, is different from that used by standard cell phones and digital cameras, which frame images instantly.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Sep 04, 2017
From its eccentric polar orbit around the Moon, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) captured a unique image of the Moon's shadow sweeping across the US during the August 21 total solar eclipse.

Using one of its two Narrow Angle Cameras, LRO obtained high-resolution images of the lunar shadow slightly north of Nashville, Tennessee, one of the locations that had the longest duration of totality.

The probe sped north of the Moon's south pole, then turned 180 degrees to look back at the Earth. Starting at 2:25:30 PM EDT, the camera photographed the area traversed by the shadow for 18 seconds, exposing each image for less than one-thousandth of a second to create a line of images.

This process, which forms an image line by line, is different from that used by standard cell phones and digital cameras, which frame images instantly.

To prevent saturation of the sensor by clouds, exposure time was kept as low as possible.

In only 18 seconds, the Narrow Angle Camera successfully obtained 52,224 lines, all of which were combined to produce the resulting image.

LRO's speed crossing north of the lunar south pole was 3,579 miles per hour (1,600 meters per second), exceeding the speed of the Moon's shadow, which raced across the Earth at 1,500 miles per hour (670 meters per second).

Mission scientists used the photos taken by LRO to create an animation that depicts the passage of the Moon's umbra and penumbra on the Earth's surface.

The orbiter also has a third, Wide Angle Camera that uses filters to capture moderate-resolution images of the Moon's surface, which yield data about the surface's composition and color.

NASA plans to use this data to select future landing sites for both robotic and crewed lunar missions.

LRO's operational capabilities were not impacted by the eclipse.

 

---

Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Comments should take into account that readers may hold different opinions. With that in mind, please make sure comments are respectful, insightful, and remain focused on the article topic.