Happy 5th Anniversary, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter!

Five years ago today, NASA launched its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter into space. It's been snapping high-resolution images of the moon's surface ever since, revealing secrets about its true "dark side," scouting out landing sites for future missions, and returning gorgeous images the likes of which have never been observable from Earth.

Take the time-lapse featured above for example. Because the moon is tidally locked to Earth, 41% of its surface is perpetually hidden from our planet's view. But this time-lapse, created from images returned by LRO, provides us an entirely different view of our nearest celestial neighbor – one that brings its enigmatic far-side into clear (and, contrary to its misconceived "dark-side" moniker, clearly illuminated) view.

To celebrate LRO's fifth anniversary, NASA launched the Moon as Art Contest. The Agency describes the project on its website:

Happy 5th Anniversary, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter!

The public was asked to select a favorite orbiter image of the moon for the cover of a special image collection. After two weeks of voting, the public has selected this image [above] of Tycho Central Peak as its favorite moon image. The stunningly beautiful Tycho Central Peak rests inside an impact crater and has a boulder over 100 meters wide (about 328 feet) at its summit. It showcases a breathtaking view of the lunar landscape.

Read more about NASA's Moon as Art Collection here.