Sunday May 22 2022 11:00 PM
Not only was this week’s lunar eclipse observed from Earth and the International Space Station, it was also observed 64 million miles (100 million km) from Earth by the Lucy spacecraft, according to a digitartlend report.
Lucy, an unmanned spacecraft from NASA and the Southwest Research Institute on its way to study Trojan asteroids in Jupiter’s orbit, obtained a view of a lunar eclipse on May 15 and was able to capture images over the course of three hours that were converted into time-lapse video.
The images were taken using Lucy’s L’LORRI tool which takes high-resolution black and white photos, and it took 86 images in total which were stitched together to create the time lapse.
Although Lucy is far from Earth, the machine was sensitive enough to be able to see the Moon as it passed through Earth’s shadow and was hidden in darkness for a short time.
“While total lunar eclipses are not uncommon, they do happen every year or so, it’s not often that you get a chance to observe them from an entirely new angle,” said Hal Levison, Lucy’s principal investigator, in a statement. Having a chance to observe this lunar eclipse as part of the instrument calibration process, everyone was incredibly excited.”
Lucy was near Earth because, after its launch in October 2021 and was traveling towards Earth for a flight in October 2022, by passing close to a huge object like Earth the spacecraft can get a gravitational-assisted thrust that helps transport it to its distant destination.
During its flight, the team can make use of its devices such as the four cameras to observe phenomena such as the lunar eclipse, but this requires some creative scheduling because that is not what these tools were originally designed for.
Taking these images was really an amazing team effort, and acting deputy principal investigator John Spencer said, “The instrument operations, guidance, navigation, and science teams had to work together to collect this data, and get the Earth and Moon in the same frame,” and all of this had to be done while running The spacecraft is in a very difficult environment.
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