Unique footage of the Earth and the Moon

Friday 13 Dec 13
by Emilie Ann Jacobsen


John Leif Jørgensen
Professor and Head of Measurement and Instrumentation
DTU Space
+45 45 25 34 48

DTU’s star camera has captured the Moon’s orbit of the Earth on film for the first time.

The Juno space probe recorded footage of the Earth and the Moon as it flew past the Earth en route to Jupiter. The film is the first ever to show how the Moon actually orbits the Earth.

It was shot with DTU Space’s camera, which is mounted on one of the wings of the probe, where its function is to help the probe navigate by the stars and distinguish up from down—which can be quite a task in space.

Other cameras of this type are already fitted to more than 50 NASA craft in space. As their position on the very end of the wings leaves them extremely exposed, the cameras are coated in a layer of 24-carat gold to protect them against radiation. A single star camera costs approximately the same as a top-of-the-range Mercedes. 

Juno’s mission

Juno was launched back in 2011 and has already visited Mars before turning back towards Earth. Here, it drew on the Earth’s gravity to pick up speed before being catapulted on its way to Jupiter. To achieve the extra speed and continue its voyage, Juno had to hit a very small area measuring just 2.2 km2 and located approximately 500 km above the Earth’s surface. With the probe coming from Mars, this feat was roughly equivalent to throwing a dart from Denmark to China—and hitting the bull’s eye. Fortunately, the manoeuvre was a success; Juno hit the spot and continued safely on its way to Jupiter.

When it reaches the planet, Juno is to attempt to determine precisely what Jupiter is made of, provide additional information about how planets are formed, and establish whether Jupiter has a solid core or consists exclusively of gas.

To find out more about Juno, visit http://missionjuno.swri.edu/earth-flyby