What It Would Look Like to Orbit the Moon

On December 14, as NASA's GRAIL mission came to a close, the mission's Ebb spacecraft flew above the northern hemisphere of the far side of the moon. The little spaceship -- a vehicle about the size of a washing machine -- flew at a distance of just six tiny miles above the lunar surface, sweeping over the dusty, pock-marked lunar landscape near the Jackson impact crater. In the process, Ebb's forward-facing camera captured a series of images taken at breathtakingly close range -- images that, though they look like something out of a '60s TV show, are in fact as real as they come. They allow us, vicariously, to sweep the surface of the moon.

The video above -- comprised of hundreds of those frames, combined and played at six times the rate of Ebb's actual orbital motion -- represents some of the last work Ebb would do on behalf of humanity: Three days after these images were taken, on December 17, Ebb would collide with the lunar surface, crashing into a mountain near the moon's north pole.

The footage itself begins at second 25 of the video.

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Desegregated, Yet Unequal

A short documentary about the legacy of Boston busing

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

Social Media: The Video Game

What if the validation of your peers could "level up" your life?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Video

Just In