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(CBSDFW.COM) – Former NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio’s tweet Monday brought both awe and some skepticism from followers.
He shared an image captured by a NASA camera on board the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite last July, saying it was “almost unbelievable that this is a real photo.”
The beauty and sharp clarity of the image caused some to doubt its authenticity. But the image is real.
It shows a view of the moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth over the Pacific Ocean near North America. The North Pole is in the upper left corner of the image, reflecting the orbital tilt of Earth from the vantage point of the spacecraft, according to NASA.
The image is part of a series of test images showing the fully illuminated “dark side” of the moon that is never visible from Earth, according to NASA.
The far side of the moon was not seen until 1959 when the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first images, according to NASA. Since then, several NASA missions have imaged the lunar far side in great detail. The same side of the moon always faces an earthbound observer since the moon is tidally locked to Earth. That means its orbital period is the same as its rotation around its axis.
Mastracchio has flown on Shuttle Atlantis, Endeavour, Discovery, Russian Soyuz and Space Station. When on earth, Mastracchio designs and builds spacecrafts and furniture, according to his Twitter page.
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