Spacecraft Footage: The Far Side Of The Moon

A camera on board one of Nasa's lunar spacecraft has captured video of the far side of the Moon.

They are the first pictures sent back from one of the twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) spacecraft as it was pulled into the Moon's orbit over the New Year.

The video scans the barren, dusty face - the oldest part of the Moon - all the way from the north to the south pole.

Previously named GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, the washing machine-sized spacecraft were named Ebb and Flow by US schoolchildren who won a nationwide contest.

In the video, the north pole of the Moon is visible at the top of the screen as the spacecraft flies toward the lunar south pole.

One of the prominent geological features seen on the lower third of the Moon is the Mare Orientale, a 560-mile-wide (900km) impact basin that straddles both the 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 93-mile-wide (149km) Drygalski crater with a distinctive star-shaped formation in the middle.

The formation is a central peak, created billions of years ago by a comet or asteroid impact.