JAN 24, 2017 8:31 AM PST

Here's What Earth and the Moon Look Like from Mars

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

NASA this month shared a really cool image of the Earth and the Moon as they appear from Mars, at a distance of around 127 million miles. It’s an angle we really don’t get to see all too often, mostly because we’re usually the ones snapping pictures of other planets.

An image of the Earth and the Moon as taken from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The image was taken with NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on November 20th, and while it’s fuzzy, it’s still clear enough that you can make out Australia on Earth through the hazy clouds.

HiRISE had to take two separate images to get both the Earth and the Moon to be visible in the same picture. That’s because the Earth is so much dimmer than the Moon is. Had they used the Moon’s preferred image exposure, the Earth would’ve been too dark, and had they used the Earth’s preferred image exposure, Moon would have been too bright.

To answer this problem, they overlaid the two images together to make what’s similar to an HDR (high dynamic range) photograph. That way, it combines the best of both photographs to give us one photograph that’s easier to look at. Both the Earth and the Moon are seen clearly in this image because of it.

Because HiRISE takes images in RGB (red, green, blue) color format, these colors aren’t perfect. Nevertheless, they’re pretty close, and you can make out which parts of the world are heavy in vegetation, like Asia, and what parts are icy, like Antarctica.

Since we already have great photographs of the Earth and the Moon, and because the Moon is just right above our heads and easy to photograph, you’re probably wondering why NASA even bothered to take a picture of the Earth and the Moon from Mars.

Well, there’s an easy answer to that question. It was for calibrating the data on HiRISE. We are already very familiar with the color tones of the Earth and the Moon, so by calibrating the color data HiRISE collects from Mars by using the data we get from here on Earth, we can depict accurate colors for the photographs snapped of Mars.

Still, it’s pretty cool to see what Earth looks like from a distance.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Physicists Find Definitive Proof of What Causes the Northern Lights
JUN 08, 2021
Physicists Find Definitive Proof of What Causes the Northern Lights
The auroras that are the northern lights have captured the imagination of people for thousands of years. While theories ...
JUL 15, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Modern Slavery in Greece Spotted from Space
JUL 15, 2021
Modern Slavery in Greece Spotted from Space
Migrant settlements being exploited for work have been spotted with satellite imagery by researchers led by the Universi ...
AUG 11, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Solve Jupiters 'Energy Crisis'
AUG 11, 2021
Researchers Solve Jupiters 'Energy Crisis'
Astronomers have solved Jupiter's 'Energy Crisis', a long-standing issue that has puzzled scientists for dec ...
AUG 27, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Model the Titan Moon in a Tube
AUG 27, 2021
Researchers Model the Titan Moon in a Tube
An image of Saturn's moon Titan on November 11, 1980 during Voyager 1's flyby. Courtesy NASA/JPL-CalTech/Kevin M. Gill
NOV 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
10 Facts You May Not Know About Carl Sagan
NOV 09, 2021
10 Facts You May Not Know About Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan was born November 9, 1934, 87 years ago today. He would go on to become one of the most influential voices in ...
DEC 23, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Space Exploration's Newest Breakthrough: Hovering Rover Propelled by Ionic Propulsion
DEC 23, 2021
Space Exploration's Newest Breakthrough: Hovering Rover Propelled by Ionic Propulsion
Many of us played with magnets when we were children, and for some, it was the first scientific principle we learned. Ma ...
Loading Comments...