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NASA camera shows moon crossing Earth from 1-million miles away

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Data pix.

NASA has released a unique view of the moon as it crosses between the camera and Earth. The NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite.

The camera that took the shots is a 4-megapixel camera and telescope on the satellite that is orbiting 1-million miles from Earth.

NASA says EPIC always has a view of the fully-illuminated Earth as it rotates, which provides scientific observations of a number of atmospheric conditions. But it hasn't started regular observations yet. That will begin next month.

The images were taken between 3:50 and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16. You can see the moon moving over the Pacific Ocean near North America. NASA says the North Pole is in the upper left corner of the image.

The writeup by NASA explains how NASA gets the vivid colors from the camera in space:

EPIC’s “natural color” images of Earth are generated by combining three separate monochrome exposures taken by the camera in quick succession. EPIC takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband spectral filters -- from ultraviolet to near infrared -- to produce a variety of science products. The red, green and blue channel images are used in these color images.

Combining three images taken about 30 seconds apart as the moon moves produces a slight but noticeable camera artifact on the right side of the moon. Because the moon has moved in relation to the Earth between the time the first (red) and last (green) exposures were made, a thin green offset appears on the right side of the moon when the three exposures are combined. This natural lunar movement also produces a slight red and blue offset on the left side of the moon in these unaltered images.

NASA plans to post daily color images of Earth to a public website made specifically for sharing the images once EPIC begins regular observations. They will show different views of the planet at it rotates through the day. The images will be available 12 to 36 hours after NASA acquires them.

DSCOVR is a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force. It's primary objective it to maintain the nation's real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

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