Earth/Moon System seen from Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Earth and Moon, As Seen From Mars

5 Mar , 2008 by

This picture was released a couple of days ago, but since it’s so special, it deserves a post on Universe Today. And besides, everyone secretly likes to look at pictures of themselves. And this is a picture of us: it’s the Earth and the moon, as seen from Mars. From the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, to be exact, and it was taken by the HiRISE Instrument on board, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment. That’s the same camera that gave us the images of the avalanche on Mars, so the capabilities of this instrument are quite spectacular. This image was snapped back in October 2007, from a distance of 142 million kilometers, and if you look closely, you can make out a few features on Earth.

The west coast outline of South America is at lower right on Earth, although the clouds are the dominant features. In fact, the clouds were so bright, compared with the Moon, that they almost completely saturated the filters on the HiRISE camera. The people working on HiRISE say this image required a fair amount of processing to make a such a nice-looking picture. Yes, I agree, we are looking quite nice.

The phase angle is 98 degrees, which means that less than half of the disks of the Earth and Moon have direct illumination from the sun; that’s the reason we only see about half of each object. The scientists working on HiRISE say they would be able to image the Earth and moon when they are fully illuminated, but only when they are on the opposite side of the sun from Mars. However, then the distance would be much greater and the image would show less detail.

At this distance, this HiRISE image has a scale of 142 km/pixel, giving the Earth diameter about 90 pixels and the Moon diameter 24 pixels.

And now, back to the target that HiRISE was originally designed for: Mars. Here’s a very colorful (and false color) image that highlights the different minerals in Nili Fossae on Mars, one of the potential landing sites for the Mars Science Laboratory rover. From the CRISM instrument, the on-board spectrometer, scientists can discern that this area on Mars contains iron and magnesium, minerals that also contain water.
Nili Fossae on Mars.  Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Original News Source: HiRISE Web page


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Gonzalo Oxenford
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Gonzalo Oxenford
March 5, 2008 5:50 AM

This is awesome!

and so, this is how we look when aliens are watching us…

I’m an old reader, just my first commnet.

thanks for making this site! have a nice day

Matt
Guest
Matt
March 5, 2008 5:58 AM

How come in the picture taken of the earth and moon, there are now stars in the background?

M

ntoskrnl
Guest
ntoskrnl
March 5, 2008 6:21 AM

The HiRise Camera has an impressive magnification, at a distance of 300km it can show details of 20-30cm per pixel, however the camera viewport is only 1,14° × 0,18°. It is very likely that there are no visible (bright enough) stars in such an area that match the same exposure time as the bright earth and moon in the foreground.

If you were in mars orbit and looked to where the earth is supposed to be, you would only see a very faint dot, if anyting. And in very close proximity to earth, there wouldn’t be any equally bright objects.

Dave
Guest
Dave
March 5, 2008 7:08 AM

Earth and Moon here are very bright and wash out the dimmer background stars in the imager. Well unless you are a conspiracy theorist, in which case this is just like the moon landings, another fake-out by NASA.

Eric
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Eric
March 5, 2008 7:43 AM

Conspiracy theorists would say that the Earth and Luna were just scaled models hanging in front of a black felt background.

Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

This is an amazing shot. To know HiRISE achieved that makes me wonder what else it can actually see on Mars. I wish the shot was a little bigger and had slightly better resolution. Aside from that, it makes a great desktop picture.

geniusgirl_123
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geniusgirl_123
March 5, 2008 8:35 AM

Hi guys, me again, the 11 yr-old genius (not quite, but I am smart!).

Those conspiracy theorists are nutters, but I would like them to read me bed-time stories! Their ideas would make a fasinating book. I would buy it, no matter what the price.

Anyway, that is a gorgeous picture and the HiRISE did well on that one.

Eric, I agree. It is a great desktop picture!!

-geniusgirl_123
KissKiss!

Chris C
Guest
Chris C
March 5, 2008 8:37 AM

I believe there has been editing to this image… I think I read somewhere (BadAstronomy perhaps?) that the Moon was made brighter in this image. The Earth naturally has a higher albedo than the Moon, so the image was adjusted for symmetry.

Perhaps a couple stars were smudged out too.

von Dawsons Express
Member
von Dawsons Express
March 5, 2008 9:46 AM

So this is what H.G.Wells/Richard Burton meant with ‘Across the gulf of space…’ Now I know what the Martians saw when ‘They drew there plans against us’….

LLDIAZ
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LLDIAZ
March 5, 2008 5:10 PM

Think about it !!!
Thats us down there walking around that round rock.
Its like Ptolemy said astronomy is the science of Gods…

cathbad
Guest
cathbad
March 5, 2008 11:42 AM

by the way.

this is more or less how you would see earth and moon from the sun.
The distance sun earth is 149 million km.
The distance here was 142 million km.

Hans
Guest
Hans
March 5, 2008 12:54 PM

Yes, but then you would, of course, see a full moon and a full earth.

Brent Jackson
Guest
Brent Jackson
March 5, 2008 4:12 PM

It would be nice to see the unadulterated picture. I think they have added too much blue to the earth.

jayem4646
Member
jayem4646
March 6, 2008 3:37 AM

Wonderful image when one thinks of the technology and the knowledge-imagination of those scientists and engineers involved that went into its final make-up. Rock on HiRISE and to all those involved in its creation!

John — http://www.moonposter.ie
Moon News — http://www.moonposter.ie/news.htm

marcellus
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marcellus
March 6, 2008 6:17 AM

Observing the Earth/Moon system would be one of the joys of Martian stargazing.

kcotae
Guest
kcotae
March 7, 2008 7:13 AM

The stars are missing because they’ve been removed. This is done in all images from Nasa and other organisations, it’s NOTHING to do with exposure levels, etc. For some reason Nasa don’t want us to see the stars.
Even when there’s a full moon viewed from earth the stars are visible. Something “fishy” is going on here…

Eric
Guest
Eric
March 7, 2008 7:48 AM

It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya!

Pshh…please.

kcotae
Guest
kcotae
March 7, 2008 10:27 AM

Its an us and them situation. They know something we don’t and they’re not gonna let on what it is. Its not just a secret, its THE secret…

Mauro
Guest
Mauro
March 7, 2008 6:54 PM

How come this picture was taken from a distance of 142 MM kilometers and Mars at about rhis time is just about 100 MM away from Earth?

Hawthorn
Guest
Hawthorn
March 8, 2008 11:03 AM

Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to kill him here?

John
Guest
John
March 8, 2008 10:59 PM

Several things, I wonder how long the exposure was? And, considering the pixel density at that distance (142 km/pixel), would it be no wonder that a star did not make an appearance?

Thought it was worth asking…

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