What Really Lies On The Dark Side Of The Moon?

Much to the delight of space enthusiast out there, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released yet another outer-worldly feature film. This time, their project offers viewers an once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into the mysterious ‘dark side’ of the moon – a place that was never visible to Earth.

Why? Well, according to data collected from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a robotic spacecraft that provides up to date information about the moon, our lunar celestial body is tidally locked in place, meaning the same side always face the Earth.

Back in 1959, the Soviet Luna 3 probe finally managed to capture some of the first images of the other side – although the pictures are far from clear. Technology has progressed a lot since then. After its launch in 2009, the LRO has been hard at work, collecting data and capturing images with the ultimate goal of mapping the lunar surface. From the time of its blast off, the spacecraft has facilitated several groundbreaking discoveries, allowing scientists to create a more holistic picture of the moon and the solar system in general.

NASA’s scientific visualization studio has now created a video that gives us a slight clue of what we can really expect to see if the moon were to ever rotate. According to Perfscience, in order to produce the film, the agency utilized “hundreds of terabytes of data.”

Within two minutes, viewers can see that the ‘dark side’ is characterized by huge craters– much larger than the ones that can be seen from Earth. However, lunar maria, or dark basaltic plains that were once formed by ancient volcanic eruptions, do not appear to be present.

According to a NASA spokesperson, “Instead, craters of all sizes crowd together over the entire far side. The far side is also home to one of the largest and oldest impact features in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin.”

The agency also argues that the term ‘dark side’ is a misnomer, as both sides are illuminated equally by the sun. Any actual differences, however, are attributed to the thicker crust that characterizes the far side, which make volcanic eruptions – and therefore, maria – much less likely to occur.

To witness the dark side – I mean, far side of the moon, click here.