NASA has shared some truly breathtaking images of Earth over the years: Pale Blue Dot, Blue Marble, Earthrise, and pretty much anything from the Apollo missions. But the agency’s latest image, captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), might be the best one yet.
The image is a composite of images of Earth as it rises over the lunar horizon, and it gives us a pristine look at the glorious beauty of our home planet. The moon, on the other hand, is dark, shadowed, and moody; it’s a wonderful juxtaposition, and a perfect reminder of just how unique Earth is.
NASA’s LRO, launched in 2009, was designed to further our understanding of the moon, using its narrow and wide angle cameras to closely inspect the lunar surface. But scientists decided to point those same cameras toward Earth, taking a series of images and combining them into the gorgeous composite you see above.
“All this takes place while LRO is traveling faster than 3,580 miles per hour (over 1,600 meters per second) relative to the lunar surface below the spacecraft,” NASA explained.
The LRO experiences 12 “earth rises” every day, though it rarely takes a break from inspecting the lunar surface, so the new image is a special treat. (If you want an unobstructed daily view of our planet, NASA has actually made a site dedicated to this very thing.)