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Dark Side of the Moon Comes Into Light [VIDEO]

Feb 09, 2015 11:10 AM EST

As the Earth spins around and around, it only ever faces one side of our orbiting Moon. But did you ever wonder what the other side looked like? Well thanks to a new video released by NASA, the dark side of the Moon is finally coming into light.

The space agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) captured these rarely seen photos using mapping data its been gathering since 2009, showing that the dark side of the Moon isn't always cloaked in shadow.

"Just like the near side, the far side goes through a complete cycle of phases," NASA said in a statement. "But the terrain of the far side is quite different. It lacks the large dark spots, called maria, that make up the familiar Man in the Moon on the near side."

In addition, more craters of different shapes and sizes pockmark the dark side, including "one of the largest and oldest impact features in the solar system," the South Pole-Aitken basin, which looks like a slightly darker bruise on the surface. (Scroll to read on...)

[Credit: NASA Goddard/NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio]

From the Earth we only ever see one side of the Moon because it's tidally locked to our planet, so an orbiting spacecraft is our only chance to see its naturally hidden features.

While the new video is indeed incredible, it's actually not the first time the mysterious dark side of the Moon has been revealed. Previously, the only images of the Moon's far side were a few fuzzy images gathered by the Soviet Luna 3 probe as it swung behind the Moon in October 1959. And now the LRO, launched 50 years later, has allowed scientists to portray an extremely detailed and accurate picture of the far side.

NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio has released the obtained images to let Earth to see a side of the Moon that has never been seen before in such detail.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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