NASA has released a stunning new view of the Earth taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), an unmanned spacecraft that's been circling, analyzing and photographing the moon since 2009. The image of Earth rising over the horizon, with the lunar surface in the foreground and the blackness of space behind, was taken Oct. 12 from a distance of about 83 miles above the Compton crater on the far side of the moon.
According to NASA, the picture is actually a composite of images snapped by two cameras while the orbiter whipped by at a speed of 3,480 miles per hour.
"Since the spacecraft, Earth, and moon are all in motion, we had to do some special processing to create an image that represents the view of the Earth and moon at one particular time," NASA explained on its website.
It echoes the famous Earthrise photo taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts on the first manned mission to orbit the moon in 1968. The astronauts -- Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders -- entered lunar orbit on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, and in a live TV broadcast that night, sent back pictures of Earth and the moon as they had never been seen before.