Huge passing shot of Earth makes all seem tiny
An astral drive-by has provided new footage of something we all take for granted – the orbit of the moon around Earth.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has flown past our planet on its way to Jupiter, and managed to catch footage of the Moon as it performed an eternal tango with its hefty blue partner.
Juno used a gravitational slingshot manoeuvre to accelerate itself into the solar system after it was launched towards the asteroid belt in early August.
It received a boost in speed of more than 14,000 kph (about 7.3 kilometres per second), which set it on course for a July 4, 2016, rendezvous with Jupiter.
The spacecraft is equipped with an array of advanced sensors, including a special camera optimised for tracking faint stars, it was this camera that was trained towards Earth as the ship shot by, resulting in an intriguing, low-resolution glimpse of what we would look like to a visitor from afar.
“Everything we humans are and everything we do is represented in that view,” said the star tracker's designer, John Jørgensen of the Danish Technical University, near Copenhagen.
Mr Jørgensen’s sentiment has been backed by a number of commenters on the video so far, who express feelings of humility at the sight of our ever-changing environments and societies presented as nothing more than a small blip with a smaller one in its orbit, hanging in the vastness of space.
Others have expressed feelings of joy that humanity has the ability to film itself from hundreds of thousands of kilometres away.
Also during the fly-by, Juno's Waves instrument, which is tasked with measuring radio and plasma waves in Jupiter's magnetosphere, recorded amateur radio signals.
It was part of a public outreach effort involving HAM radio operators from around the world. They were invited to say “HI” to Juno by coordinating radio transmissions that carried the Morse-coded message. Operators from every continent, including Antarctica, participated.
More information about Juno is available here, or check out the video posted below.