New Delhi,UPDATED: February 9, 2024 16:15 IST
NASA has recently released captivating images of a lunar landscape rarely observed by Earthlings: the far side of the Moon.
This region, often mistakenly called the “dark side,” is as illuminated by the sun as the side facing Earth, but remains an enigma due to its unique characteristics and our inability to see it directly from our planet.
The far side of the Moon presents a markedly different appearance compared to the well-known near side. It is characterized by rugged terrain filled with impact craters and a scarcity of marias, the vast, dark plains formed by ancient volcanic activity.
These marias are less frequent on the opposite side, making it more similar to the arid surfaces of celestial bodies such as Mercury or Callisto.
This hidden hemisphere of the Moon has remained out of sight due to a phenomenon known as tidal locking.
The Moon’s rotation period is synchronized with its orbital period around the Earth, causing the same lunar face to perpetually point toward us. As a result, the other side has become shrouded in a veil of mystery, only observable through space missions or satellite technology.
The intrigue surrounding the other side increased when the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft first photographed it in 1959.
Since then, missions such as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have provided more information about this elusive region. Contrary to its nickname, the other side is not darker; receives as much sunlight as the near side. However, their composition and cooling history differ: the opposite side shows more craters and an older surface.
NASA’s recent release of images offers a rare glimpse of this otherworldly terrain, sparking curiosity and wonder about the complexities of our celestial neighbor.