The Earth as seen from the Moon
Japan's Kaguya spacecraft has relayed the very first Full Earthrise movie in high definition (HD) video, giving humans a uniquely beautiful view of our small blue planet just in time for Earth Day.
Japan's Kaguya lunar orbiter showing fields of wide- and narrow-angle cameras
Kaguya orbits the moon at an altitude of just 60 miles (100 km), allowing its HD television cameras to record the finest video footage ever taken in space. Although film and photos of the colorful earth rising above the desolate lunar surface have been taken before, most famously by Apollo 8 and 11 astronauts in 1968 and 1969 respectively, never before has a rising Full Earth been caught on video - truly the ultimate in "satellite TV"!
Waning Earth, photographed earlier by Kaguya
The following video sequence shows not only the spectacular full Earthrise, but also an Earthset:
Kaguya, named for a mythical moon princess from Japanese mythology, was launched (click here for launch info & video) late last year on a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket from the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) space center on Japan's southern Tanegashima Island. The orbiter, whose stated mission is to "gather data on the chemical composition and mineral distribution of the moon, its surface features and gravity field", has performed flawlessly to date.
The exquisite view of our planet provided by Kaguya is a poignant reminder that the Earth is just one small, fragile oasis in the vast emptiness of space... well worth taking care of! (via informitv, video c/o JAXA)