Science

Amazing NASA HD video shows the Moon’s 2011 cycle

The Moon in its Third Quarter Phase
The Moon in its Third Quarter Phase. Credit: NASA/Goddard
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If you were as mesmerised by the lunar eclipse this week as we were than you will want to see this NASA HD simulation of the Moon’s 2011 cycle.

The Moon in its Third Quarter Phase

The Moon in its Third Quarter Phase. Credit: NASA/Goddard

Created by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Department this beautiful 2.5 minute video shows the monthly wax and wane of the Moon. This simulation is so detailed that you can see Moon’s shadow move across the craters and seas; you can even see the Moon grow and shrink as the seasons pass. Although, for us, the most fascinating part is to see the Moon rock and sway from left to right (its libation) as each month passes.

The video takes information recorded by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to create the projection. Specifically the LRO’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter was used to generate the most accurate elevation map of the Moon’s surface allowing us to see in pixel perfect detail the movement of the Sun across our satellite.

The animation shows the position of the Moon at hourly intervals with each 12 seconds representing one month.

“This marks the first time that accurate shadows at this level of detail are possible in such a computer simulation. The shadows are based on the global elevation map being developed from measurements by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). LOLA has already taken more than 10 times as many elevation measurements as all previous missions combined.” Says NASA on its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter website.

If you want to know more visit the Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization website. You should also check out their high resolution images of the Moon, they also have higher quality video than the once above

Via @flamelauthor

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).