JAN 24, 2017 08:31 AM PST

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

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
JUL 31, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
JUL 31, 2018
Where Does Earth Get Its Water
We live on Earth, the so-called blue planet. Without water, Earth would not be "blue" at all, not to mention the life that is bred on the planet...
AUG 22, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
AUG 22, 2018
The Universe is Expanding, But How Fast?
Since the Big Bang, our universe has never ceased expanding. The rate of cosmic expansion, now known as the Hubble Constant, was first defined by Belgian a...
SEP 25, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 25, 2018
Titan Experiences Dust Storms Just Like Earth and Mars
Dust storms aren’t particularly pleasant, but you should consider yourself lucky if you ever get to experience one. Planetary scientists have long be...
OCT 01, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 01, 2018
New Horizons Team Rehearses for Upcoming Ultima Thule Flyby
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made history when it became the first spacecraft to fly past Pluto and capture stunning images of its surface in 2015....
OCT 02, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 02, 2018
NASA's Kepler Space Telescope Enters Sleep Mode to Preserve Data
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope earned a reputation for being quite the capable exoplanet hunter, but after all these years of memorable service to the...
NOV 06, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 06, 2018
Here's Where NASA Will Land its Martian InSight Mission Later This Month
In May, an Atlas V rocket blasted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base and lofted NASA’s InSight mission into space so that it could...
Loading Comments...