The NASA Lucy mission has successfully observed the May 2022 total lunar eclipse from a unique vantage point 64 million miles from the Earth. The Earth cast its shadow over the moon for a few hours on May 15. This total lunar eclipse was visible over much of the United States. But it was also visible from deep space. Lucy spacecraft was able to use its high-resolution imaging instrument to watch the moon pass into the shadow of the Earth.
The Lucy spacecraft launched on October 16, 2021. It is currently traveling towards the Earth for a gravity assist. This previously unexplored population of asteroids that lead and follow Jupiter in its orbit around the sun are “fossils” of planet formation. They have important clues to help us understand the history of our solar system.
Lucy’s L’LORRI instrument is a black-and-white camera made by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. It took 86 1-millisecond exposures from 8:40 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. CDT on May 15 to create a time-lapse video of the first half of the total lunar eclipse. The spacecraft was designed to operate at the Trojans which is more than five times farther from the sun than the spacecraft is now. Because of the warmer thermal environment, the spacecraft only viewed the first half of the eclipse to avoid the risk of overheating the spacecraft