Crescent Earth

Crescent Earth, as seen from the Rosetta spacecraft during its final flyby (image: ESA)
Crescent Earth, as seen from the Rosetta spacecraft during its final flyby (image: ESA)

The picture above shows parts of South America and Antarctica, as seen from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft. Yesterday, the interplanetary probe flew by Earth for one last time, picking up a few kilometres per second of speed to boost it on its comet-chasing trajectory.

You can click on the photo for a higher resolution version in a separate window, and click within that for the image in its full five megapixel glory.

From our perspective on the ground we periodically get to see a crescent moon, and there I’m always struck by the contrast between the thin sliver of illuminated lunar surface, the details of which can appear enhanced, and the mystery of the mostly dark whole. To be able to see with one’s own eyes a crescent Earth from space would be a delight. Given that this is unlikely to happen, photographic images from Rosetta and the like will have to do.