Video of the lunar far side from GRAIL/Ebb

By Phil Plait | February 3, 2012 10:49 am

This is so cool: NASA’s twin GRAIL spacecraft (now named Ebb and Flow) have cameras on board to take images of the lunar surface, and an animation has been put together of Ebb’s view of the Moon’s far side!

Pretty neat. I love the wide-angle view; the individual images were taken while Ebb was still over a thousand kilometers from the Moon. The huge circular feature you can see on the right 30 seconds into the video is Orientale Basin, an impact so huge it must’ve lit up the solar system a few billion years ago. That basin is nearly 1000 km (600 miles) across! See the LRO image below for a clearer view, and click it for more info.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what will be done with these cameras. As Principal Investigator Maria Zuber explains in the video, they were installed specifically for educational purposes, and kids all over America will get a chance to examine the data. I love this idea, since it means these children will be invested in the project itself, and remember it for their whole lives. It’s a fantastic idea.


Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures, Space

Comments (24)

  1. Scott P.

    Have they spotted the swastika-shaped moonbase yet?

  2. Christa

    What, no alien space base??? I’m disappointed. Probably a government coverup. 😉

    But seriously, this is really fantastic!!!!

  3. alfaniner

    Whenever I see an article like this, I expect it to have a title like “Pictures of the Dark Side of the Moon.”

    Except here.

  4. @Alfaniner, I have a good picture of the Dark Side of the Moon:

    (Probably not what you meant. 😀 )

  5. Dragonchild

    The Moon and Mercury are so gray my eyes start playing tricks on me in the attempt to see color.

  6. Revyloution

    I’ve been wondering about the Ebb and Flow pictures. If you took two shots from the opposite sides of the moon and made them into a red/blue anaglyph 3d image, would the perspective make the moon look like a tiny marble, or something immensely huge about to smash into your face?

  7. I had this comment nearly done, and then accidentally closed the tab.

    Wednesday night and Thursday morning this was being reported (on ABC and CNN, respectively) as the “first-ever video from the dark side of the Moon!” Ignoring the “dark side” idiocy, is this actually the first VIDEO from the far side? We’ve had images since 1959, have we never had video before? Is this even really video and not an animation based on interpolated still images?

    Here’s the first line of an article that appeared yesterday: “A gravity-mapping spacecraft orbiting the moon has beamed home its first video of the lunar far side — a view people on Earth never see.” The statement here is that this is the first video for THIS spacecraft.

    And here’s the headline that was slapped on the article: “NASA takes first ever video of dark side of the moon”.


  8. Len Bonacci

    …Look at all those black monoliths…

  9. Bill

    The lunatic is on the web…


  10. Tara Li

    @Harold – I was wondering that myself? They can’t use LRO pictures and make a nice video of the *ENTIRE* Moon? You know – that would be kinda neat! At a guess though, frames don’t over-lap enough to make smooth video.

  11. Mark Cope

    Ah, the Pink Floyd references are cool. The Probes would have been fine named “Pink” and “Floyd”, at the least it would have made the Space Cases sit up and take notice also.

  12. Digital Atheist


    I have that EXACT. SAME. PHOTO. embroidered on a t-shirt! :-O

  13. ASFalcon13


    You’re correct. The original press release was titled “NASA Mission Returns First Video From Moon’s Far Side”. Now, what was meant was that this is the first video returned by the GRAIL mission, but this ambiguous wording, along with the common error of referring to the far side of the Moon as the “dark side”, has resulted in a lot of headlines in the vein of “OMG First Video of the Dark Side of the Moon EVAR!!!!1!!!11one!!1!”.

  14. Joseph G

    Meatwad you up next with your knock knock
    Meatwad make the money, see
    Meatwad get the honeys, G
    Drivin in my car, livin’ like a star
    Ice on my fingers and my toes and I’m a Taurus

  15. @Harold (#7):

    Not only did JAXA’s Kaguya get video of the far side of the moon, but it’s all in HD. Click my name for the link.

  16. John Paradox

    Phil, check out what BLASTR has: “Watch 1st video ever of the far side of the moon”

    owie, owie, owie….


  17. CR

    Parts of the mare/lava field in the main part of the basin reminds me of the broken up ice on Europa… I’m guessing that as that lava was crusting over, it broke up and/or was broken apart by subsequent meteorite impacts, then solidified in those positions. Cool looking, in any case.
    I’ve said this before, but that basin is so huge, and so round… if that side of the moon faced Earth, I wonder if our ancestors would have presumed the moon to be an ‘eye of god’ or something.

  18. Astrophel

    I hate news sites reporting this as “first ever video of the far side,” or worse, “dark side.” It’s the first video for the mission. I think Apollo 8 filmed the far side, and the Luna probes sent video too. Digital video was taken by Kaguya, etc.

    I’ve run into exaggerated headlines so often, I just ignore them nowadays. “Is there life on Venus,” “Was Einstein wrong,” etc. Somebody said well when they recommended that if the answer to the headline is no, you shouldn’t write the article.

    Anyway, the first comment refers to the upcoming black comedy about Nazis on the Moon produced by the Star Wreck guys using donations over the Internet as financing. It looks to be an actual thought-out movie with a professional cast and script.

  19. Je3ro

    Why not just show us the big video’s of stuff like this? or Stream it from a Sat.? Why we always get the snippets from cameras or blurred out this and blacked out that type photo’s?!

    “Where is the Google “Moon”???” “It’s been looong enough!”

  20. Paulino

    So, the smiley crater is on the Moon, not on Mars…

  21. No one else sees it? Totally Meatwad from ATHF 😀

  22. Jim Saul

    Je3ro Says: “Where is the Google “Moon”???” “It’s been looong enough!”

    Ok, maybe I’m missing sarcasm or something, but if not, here it is:

  23. Sunny D

    Does anyone have an explanation for the random black rectangles pasted on the moon?

    And can we all finally say that there are alien bases? Look up the disclosure project in YouTube one man says he saw this in NASA.

  24. Matt B.

    Ebb and Flow? Are they voiced by Vicky Lewis? Oh, wait…


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