For the second time in a year, the Moon has photobombed a NASA camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth on Jul 4-5, 2016.
"For the second time in the life of DSCOVR, the moon moved between the spacecraft and Earth,” said Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "The project recorded this event on July 5 with the same cadence and spatial resolution as the first ‘lunar photobomb’ of last year."
The images were captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four-megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite orbiting 1 million miles from Earth. From its position between the sun and Earth, DSCOVR conducts its primary mission of real-time solar wind monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The satellite is orbiting around the sun-Earth first Lagrange point (where the gravitational pull of Earth is equal and opposite of that of the sun) in a complex, non-recurring orbit that changes from an ellipse to a circle and back (called a Lissajous orbit) taking the spacecraft between 4 and 12 degrees from the sun-Earth line. This orbit intersects the lunar orbit about four times a year. However, depending on the relative orbital phases of the moon and DSCOVR, the moon appears between the spacecraft and Earth once or twice a year.
The last time EPIC captured this event was between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16, 2015.