The view from a tiny lunar satellite
MingChuan Wei, Harbin Institute of Technology
Smile, you’re on camera! This new portrait of Earth and the moon was taken this week by a camera on board a student-built microsatellite, Longjiang-2. It was launched on 25 May 2018 alongside a larger lunar communications satellite designed to support China’s upcoming Chang’e 4 lunar rover, and has been orbiting the moon since.
The tiny satellite was developed by a team at the Harbin Institute of Technology in Heilongjiang Province, China and is designed to allow amateurs to upload radio commands and download photos.
When Earth and the moon lined up, a group of radio enthusiasts sent the command to take the shot, downloading the image to the Dwingeloo radio observatory in the Netherlands.
“It felt awesome, we were cheering in the telescope,” says Tammo Jan Dijkema, one of the Dwingeloo operators. “We could see the image building up line by line and it was not certain that Earth would be in view, or that the exposure would be correct. When we saw a blue marble popping up we were very happy.”