Dark Side of the Moon

Image from LCROSS' visible light camera
Image from LCROSS' visible light camera

As a matter of fact there IS a dark side of the moon, and it’s NOT all dark.

The recently-launched LCROSS orbiter proves it too, in this photo taken during its lunar gravity-assist orbit which will take it around the Earth several times before finally impacting the moon on October 9. This image of the moon’s “backside” was taken during the lunar swingby phase of its mission on Tuesday. It is now in its “cruise” phase, having begun its elongated orbit, called LGALRO (Lunar Gravity Assist, Lunar Return Orbit).

The LCROSS mission was launched on June 18 to study a polar crater for evidence of water ice. The LCROSS orbiter was launched aboard an Atlas V rocket along with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a robotic exploration satellite now sucessfully in orbit around the moon after the five-day journey there.

The LRO/LCROSS mission will pave the way for future long-term human endeavors on the lunar surface.

Image: NASA