NASA orbiter views far side of the moon
Spacecraft made lunar orbit a month ago
A camera aboard a NASA lunar spacecraft has beamed back its first images of the far side of the moon.
In the 30-second video clip the north pole of the moon is visible at the top of the screen as the spacecraft flies toward the lunar south pole.
The first prominent geological feature seen on the lower third of the moon is the Mare Orientale, a 900-kilometre-wide impact basin that straddles both the moon's near and far side.
The clip ends with rugged terrain just short of the lunar south pole. To the left of centre, near the bottom of the screen, is the 149-kilometre-wide Drygalski Crater with a distinctive star-shaped formation in the middle. The formation is a central peak, created many billions of years ago by a comet or asteroid impact.
NASA's twin spacecraft, dubbed Ebb and Flow, made lunar orbit during New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
The washing machine-sized spacecraft was named by Grade 4 students at Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., following a U.S.-wide student naming contest last month.
Launched in September 2011, Ebb and Flow periodically performs trajectory correction manoeuvres that, over time, will lower their orbits to near-circular ones with an altitude of about 55 kilometres.