The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) captured the moon photobombing Earth as it moves in front of the planet's bright side.
The images were captured by the space agency's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) on board the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite. According to DSCOVR project scientist Adam Szabo, this is only the second time in the satellite's operations that the moon moved between it and the Earth.
"The project recorded this event on July 5 with the same cadence and spatial resolution as the first 'lunar photobomb' of last year," said Szabo from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
The new images were snapped between July 4 (11:50 p.m. EDT) and July 5 (3:18 a.m.). The snapshots show the moon passing over the Pacific and Indian oceans, as if photobombing the planet while the EPIC camera snaps a series of photos as it spins.
The last time a similar event was captured by the EPIC camera was on July 16, 2015 between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
The DSCOVR satellite is currently in orbit 1 million miles from the planet. It is positioned between the Earth and the sun. From its location, its main mission is to monitor solar wind in real time for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
EPIC is a 4-megapixel charge-coupled device (CCD) that functions as both a camera and a telescope. As the planet rotates, the space camera is maintaining a fully lit view of Earth. This provides scientific data on the planet's vegetation, cloud height, atmospheric aerosols and ozone. The series of snapshots of the planet from space provide scientists with data on daily changes across the entire globe for scientific studies.
"It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon. Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface," said Szabo.
Next month, the EPIC camera will start regular observations. NASA will then upload daily colored images of the planet on a dedicated website accessible to the public. The series of images will show different views of Earth as it rotates. The images will be available on the website 12 to 36 hours after they are gathered.
The DSCOVR satellite is a joint venture between the U.S. Air Force, NASA and NOAA. The data gathered is crucial in the lead time and accuracy of space weather forecasts and alerts sent by NOAA.