This is a creative animation showing the far side of the Moon.
This may not seem like a big deal - after all, the Moon is always up there, right? - but in fact it is a very big deal.
Nobody in human history who died before 1959 saw anything like this, because that is when the Soviet Luna 3 probe, which swung around the Moon in October, 1959, first sent back pictures of it.
Contrary to anything that Pink Floyd may tell you, the far side of moon is not 'dark,' any more than the side facing us is. The earth's gravitation long ago corralled the moon into keeping the same side facing the earth throughout its rotation. While we can't see it, the far side goes through a complete cycle of lunar phases, just the reverse of the ones that we see.
If you look at the pictures, you might note that the terrain of the far side is quite different than what we see when we look up. For instance, it lacks the large dark spots, called maria, that make up the familiar blotchy lunar landscape. The craters are all spread out on the far side. There is a distinctive area, the the South Pole-Aitken basin, visible here as a slightly darker bruise covering the bottom third of the disk. It is one of the oldest features known to exist in the entire solar system.
The Apollo 8 astronauts who first saw this landscape without the aid of cameras in their epic Christmas flight of 1968 created one of the most indelible moments of the entire space age with their expressions of awe and delight. Since then, only a couple dozen other human beings have ever seen it unaided on the subsequent Apollo flights, and nobody at all has seen it in well over forty years. When you ponder time frames like that - there still are no concrete plans to send anyone out of low earth orbit, though there is lots of talk - the magnitude of this type of view comes into focus.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched a few years ago, and since then it has returned hundreds of terabytes of data. Its data was used to create the imagery seen here.
Animation is becoming increasingly important in space exploration - there is so much raw data sent back these days from probes that sorting it and presenting it in a useable fashion is a huge and vitally important job, else it just sits on a hard drive somewhere. The quality has improved tremendously in just the past few years, too. Look for more videos of this sort on increasingly remote celestial objects.
I love this stuff. All credit to the men who put it together.
Ernie Wright (USRA), Lead Animator
David Ladd (USRA), Producer
John Keller (NASA/GSFC), Scientist
Noah Petro (ORAU), Scientist