Earth flyby video
August 30, 2005 10:15 AM   Subscribe

The MESSENGER spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral on August 3, 2004 and returned to Earth for its first gravity boost on the way to Mercury a year later on August 2, 2005. MESSENGER took hundreds of high-res digital photos during its Earth flyby and they've been sequenced into an amazing movie of Earth rotating over 24 hours as the spacecraft swung past at thousands of miles per hour.
posted by driveler (31 comments total)
Sweet! For some reason this lil spacecraft has a significantly better camera than any of the recent NASA ones. Or so it seems.
posted by riffola at 10:21 AM on August 30, 2005

Awesome. This is one of those "i can't believe it's not CGI" moments.
posted by odinsdream at 10:30 AM on August 30, 2005

That's one of the prettiest things NASA has ever put out. Isn't the Earth just cute as a button? So shiny and spinny and stuff? What a cuteshy little gooshy wooshie poo.
posted by brownpau at 10:32 AM on August 30, 2005

That's a good trick. Every once in a while, when coffee just won't cut the mustard, I'll swing by a corpulent dude for a gravity boost.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:46 AM on August 30, 2005

So long, Ma! I'll call when I get work...
posted by cenoxo at 10:54 AM on August 30, 2005

The movie is cool, and I like to see the reflection of the sun as a kind of bright spot throughout the movie. Or is that the red-eye reducer on the satellite flash?
posted by OmieWise at 10:54 AM on August 30, 2005

For some reason, all shots of earth against the inky void always make me feel, well, lonely. Not individually lonely, just "at sea, out of sight of land" lonely.

The boat always seems so small.
posted by dglynn at 10:58 AM on August 30, 2005

I for one would like to protest this microsoft sponsored advertising campaign. Couldn't they name the probe the Jabber or the Talk? I guess Microsoft really does control everything.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:00 AM on August 30, 2005

I had no idea we were so shiny!
posted by Elpoca at 11:02 AM on August 30, 2005

posted by DakotaPaul at 11:03 AM on August 30, 2005

The boat always seems so small.

You're still big. It's the earth that got smaller as you waved it goodbye.

Uh... why don't them clouds move around all swirly-like while the earth is turning? Is that non-reflective black area Australia 1/3 of the way through? It looks like a masked area filled with flat black. Maybe an Area 51 that doesn't reflect sunlight.

and why ain't it full o stars?
posted by hal9k at 11:10 AM on August 30, 2005

That's just awesome.
posted by killdevil at 11:11 AM on August 30, 2005


Now if only someone with the cgi chops would make it so that, as we pull further and further back, we see the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his noodly appendages behind the earth, I'd be very happy.
posted by papercake at 11:14 AM on August 30, 2005

Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to see the Earth rise over another horizon. Frank Borman, the mission commander, said:

The view of the Earth from the Moon fascinated me — a small disk, 240,000 miles away. . . . Raging nationalistic interests, famines, wars, pestilence don't show from that distance.
posted by cenoxo at 11:19 AM on August 30, 2005

Hell, cenoxo, you can't even see them from the mall.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:31 AM on August 30, 2005

This is as good a place as any to recommend the movie "For All Mankind" about the Apollo missions. The same kind of thing as this clip but much more compelling and intense. netflix has it.
posted by thayerg at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2005

it's to bad we only get a shot of the earth as it's pulling away, it would be cool to see the earth aproach, and then pull back.

Also, no stars! It must be another NASA hoax!!!!
posted by delmoi at 11:46 AM on August 30, 2005

Fantastic. I feel very humble, even without the stars.

posted by Nugget at 11:53 AM on August 30, 2005

<humble>Holy freaking Christ on a stick.</humble>

Can we try not to wreck this thing? It's really pretty.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:51 PM on August 30, 2005

I'm still creeped out that you can't see stars from space.
posted by geoff. at 12:51 PM on August 30, 2005

w-gp: can't even see them from the mall.

<OT>True, but that depends on the demographic.</OT>
posted by cenoxo at 1:00 PM on August 30, 2005

Great link. thanks
posted by Outlawyr at 1:22 PM on August 30, 2005

I agree with hal9k -- why don't the clouds move at all? It's 24 hours of the Earth's rotation; it would seem that the clouds would move somewhat, no?
posted by delfuego at 1:52 PM on August 30, 2005

hal9k and delfuego, You're looking for massive cloud movement (since that's all the detail you can make out) in six hours. The six hours is beacuse you can only really see 1/4 of the surface. There is a lot of cloud movement in six hours, but in the amount of detail we can see it won't show up.
posted by Phantomx at 2:31 PM on August 30, 2005

Waits for Messenger spam..............
posted by Joeforking at 2:36 PM on August 30, 2005

No way that was 24 hours. The border between night and day barely moved. That's why the clouds didn't move
posted by Bonzai at 2:40 PM on August 30, 2005

<tired scientific explanation>
The stars aren't visible for the same (well, nearly the same) reason that you don't see stars when the sun is up. You're blinded.
</tired scientific explanation>

[tired because I happened to read this today]
posted by intermod at 7:25 PM on August 30, 2005

Ummm, Bonzai, the border between night and day doesn't move relative to our position on the satellite, but the Earth rotates through an entire 360-degree rotation -- an entire day/night passage -- from the start of the film to the end. It's really an entire 24-hour period.
posted by delfuego at 7:31 PM on August 30, 2005

That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Thank you.
posted by Gamecat at 7:42 PM on August 30, 2005

What NASA has to say about the lack of photographed stars (albeit in the context of refuting a Moon landing hoax article).

I cathect our blue-green-grey marble. It's got a Meta colour scheme.
posted by birdsquared at 9:42 PM on August 30, 2005

I know that it's completely logical that there should be a shiny spot where the sunlight reflects on the sphere, but in this context it makes it seem fake. I'm also wondering why the movie begins with Earth already in hindsight -- unless during the approach the sun was too close to the camera lens, but the angle of the terminator doesn't make it seem that way. Approaching and whipping past would have been just that much extra cooler.
posted by dhartung at 12:24 AM on August 31, 2005

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