It’s time once more for another Where In The Universe Challenge (sorry for the short hiatus…) Name where in the Universe this image was taken and give yourself extra points if you can name the telescope or spacecraft responsible for the image. Post your guesses in the comments section, and check back on later at this same post to find the answer. To make this challenge fun for everyone, please don’t include links or extensive explanations with your answer. Good luck!
UPDATE: The answer is now posted below:
It took awhile, but readers finally figured this one out! This our Moon as seen from the MESSENGER spacecraft back on July 31, 2005, less than a year after it launched. As you know, MESSENGER is now successfully in orbit around Mercury (yay!) but at the time this image was taken, the spacecraft was about 992,814 kilometers (616,906 miles) from the Earth on its circuitous route to Mercury.
This image was featured on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter website last week in honor of MESSENGER’s successful orbit insertion. As the LROC website says, this image was not taken simply because the Moon is beautiful and inspiring; it served to help the MESSENGER team calibrate the camera and spectrometer. The Moon is a good calibration standard because its reflectance and color have been measured with many instruments, so it is useful to make comparisons between instruments with different characteristics.
So congrats to the MESSENGER team — who will certainly henceforth be concentrating on Mercury!
And you can find the answer to the previous WITU challenge back on the original post.