This Is Earth and the Moon as Seen From Mars

Celestial bodies to embellish the sky

Celestial bodies to embellish the sky

You're looking at Earth and the Moon, as seen on November 20, 2016 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Back in 2007, HiRISE took this image, below, from Mars' orbit when it was just 88 million miles (142 million km) from Earth.

"The combined view retains the correct positions and sizes of the two bodies [Earth and the moon] relative to each other", NASA officials wrote in a description of the image, which was released today (Jan. 6). The image below shows the distance of the Earth and Moon to scale. The two cosmic bodies appear closer than they are.

These images were acquired for calibration of HiRISE data, since the spectral reflectance of the Moon's near side is very well known. This is because the observation was planned for a time when the moon was nearly directly behind the Earth, as seen from Mars, in order to capture the Earth-facing side of the Moon. Now reverse the perspective and you get NASA's Image of the Day from Friday: a view of the Earth and its moon from all the way over at Mars.

Engineers wanted the picture to calibrate the spacecraft's high-resolution camera since the reflectivity of the moon's near side is well documented.

Australia is clearly visible in the form of a reddish colored feature in the center of the picture.

The new view shows continent-size detail, including Australia - described by NASA as "the reddish feature near the middle of the face of Earth".

It said other bright areas in the image were clouds.

This isn't the first time the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken a photo of our home planet.

That 2007 photo shows South America and clouds obscuring other parts of Earth's surface.

In the image, colors have been adjusted to make both the objects prominent.

The US space agency NASA mesmerizes space enthusiasts by sharing stunning images of earth captured from space.

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