LRO and the Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014: Telescopic View
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Typically, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft flies over the night side of the Moon every two hours, spending about 45 minutes in darkness. Because LRO is powered by sunlight, it uses a rechargeable battery to operate while on the night side of the Moon and then charges the battery when it comes back around into daylight.
During the total lunar eclipse of April 15, 2014, however, LRO emerges from the night side of the Moon only to find the Sun blocked by the Earth. LRO needs to travel an entire orbit before seeing the Sun again, relying continuously on its battery for almost three hours, longer than it ever has before.
LRO won’t be in any real danger as long as its power consumption is handled carefully. Its scientific instruments will be turned off temporarily, while vital subsystems like the heater will remain on. LRO will be closely monitored throughout the eclipse.
This animation shows the Moon as it might look through a telescope on Earth, with LRO’s orbit, its view of the Sun, and a fuel gauge showing received sunlight and the battery’s charge.
The appearance of the Moon during the lunar eclipse at 10 seconds per frame. Displays LRO's orbit, its view of the Sun, and meters for the amount of sunlight LRO is receiving and the charge of its battery.
The appearance of the Moon during the lunar eclipse at 10 seconds per frame. Displays LRO's orbit. The frames include an alpha channel.
The appearance of the Moon during the lunar eclipse at 10 seconds per frame. Omits LRO's orbit. The frames include an alpha channel.
LRO's view of the Sun during the eclipse. The view is dark when the Moon is in the way. The frames include an alpha channel.
For More Information
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
- Ernie Wright (USRA) [Lead]
MissionsThis visualization is related to the following missions:
Datasets used in this visualization
LRO WAC 643nm High Sun Global MosaicID: 803Mosaic Collected with LROC
LRO DEM (Digital Elevation Map)ID: 653Collected with LOLA
DE421 (JPL DE421)ID: 752Ephemeris NASA/JPL
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.