24/09/2015 09:45 BST | Updated 24/09/2015 11:59 BST

The Supermoon Eclipse Is A Problem For NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

The supermoon eclipse is a rare and impressive event that for many will involve standing outside with a pair of binoculars and enjoying the show.

For the team controlling Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter however, the supermoon eclipse is something altogether a lot more worrying.

The LRO spacecraft is NASA's moon-based scientific observatory, sending back huge swathes of data including temperature maps, high-resolution colour imagery as well as studying the moon's ability to reflect the Sun's light.

That last point is very important, because during the supermoon eclipse there will be zero light, both for the moon and for the Orbiter.

A supermoon eclipse is when the moon reaches its closest point to the Earth while also being blocked from the Sun by the Earth.

That means that for people down on the ground you'll not only have a larger moon than normal but for those lucky enough to catch it at the right time - a moon that effectively goes dark.

Like most spacecraft the LRO relies on its solar panels for power, so for three hours on the 28 September, the LRO will effectively be having its plug pulled.

While it sounds drastic, the team are well versed to dealing with these blackouts, having dealt with three lunar eclipses in the last 17 months.


Noah Petro, deputy project scientist at Nasa said to the BBC: "With the eclipse the spacecraft will be out of direct sunlight for just about three hours,"

"Normally LRO recharges batteries in the sunlight so when we go into eclipse we are very cautious with the spacecraft.

"We have been through a number of eclipses over the years and know how to take care of the spacecraft."

While the supermoon is cause for some concern for NASA, it certainly won't spell the end of the world, which is more than can be said for a small group of conspiracy theorists who think the 28 September will be just that.

Thankfully for the rest of the us the supermoon should be something to enjoy and indeed on Monday 28 September you should be able to catch it in the UK at around 03:11AM if the weather behaves.