A stunning image taken by China’s Longjiang-2 satellite on 3 February shows a rare perspective – a large backside of the Moon with a small planet Earth nearby
The Longjiang-2 satellite entered the Moon’s orbit in June 2018 and was launched along with China’s Queqiao communications probe, that has been critical for the country’s recent Chang’e-4 lunar lander.
In January the Chang’e-4 successfully touched down on the far side of the Moon — the side that’s always facing far from Earth. yet it needs the Queqiao satellite to be located in a stable position close to the Moon, where it sends radio signals from both Longjiang-2 and also the Chang’e-4 lander to Earth.
This photo of Earth and the Lunar farside, maybe our best ever, was taken yesterday by the Chinese Lunar satellite DSLWP-B (Longjiang-2). The Dwingeloo telescope downloaded the photo from the satellite this morning. More info at https://t.co/sKt7w9mol9 pic.twitter.com/IsnyvqekTz— Dwingeloo Telescoop (@radiotelescoop) 4 February 2019
Longjiang-2 had a companion satellite, Longjiang-1, that was also tasked with orbiting and observing the Moon. China lost its contact with Longjiang-1 on its way to lunar orbit.
Longjiang-2 has been with a success, although during the Chang’e-4 landing the satellite was silent in order to not interfere with communications between the earth and the lander.
The probe has since been re-activated and started taking a time-lapse of the Earth-Moon system on 3 February.
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The image of that sequence was downloaded by Dwingeloo Radio Observatory in the Netherlands yesterday, marking the first time Longjiang-2 has captured the whole Moon and Earth in one shot.