Everyone knows what the moon looks like from Earth. But what about the far side which we can't normally see?
For centuries, that was a mystery, and even more recently there wasn't much to go on. We only had a handful of grainy images returned by the Soviet Luna 3 probe, which swung around the moon in October, 1959, a decade before the first humans set foot on its surface.
But since the summer of 2009, scores of new images have been created thanks to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Its laser altimeter and camera are providing some of the most detailed looks of the rugged, airless lunar terrain. This makes it possible to see the moon with unprecedented fidelity.
The thing that stands out most is that side of the moon facing away from the Earth doesn't have those dark spots known as maria. Rather, there are craters of all sizes. And lots of them.
From the angle above, the Earth looms in the background. In a time-lapse telescopic view, the spinning Earth seems to envelop the moon. And while the moon looks to be almost full from this vantage point, it will only be a waning crescent when seen from Earth.