Selfies from space: NASA has lift-off on Instagram to mark moon probe launch

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Space agency says it will share with its followers the 'most engaging images on and off the planet'

It promises to let you “capture and share the world’s moments”, but never before has a new Instagram user been so well positioned to do just that.

NASA has launched its first official profile on the photo sharing website, and vows to take its fans on “an out-of-this-world journey through images of Earth and beyond”.

Already a seasoned user of Twitter, with around 4.8 million followers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration agency timed its first foray into the world of selfies and retro light filters to coincide with a launch of a more traditional nature – a mission to the moon.

Also lifting off on Friday night, the LADEE robotic probe (pronounced LA-dee) will seek to answer a question which has bugged lunar scientists ever since the Apollo landings: does moon dust levitate?

Before it can perform tests on the makeup of our natural satellite’s surface and atmosphere, LADEE will be taking a leisurely three-times-round-the-world trip for about a month until it gets close enough to drop into lunar orbit.

In the meantime, those following NASA online will hope for plenty more spectacular images like these.

The $280 million unmanned mission was only the US’s second “moonshot” not to be launched from Cape Canaveral, instead making for a high-profile first at the Wallops Flight Centre in Virginia.

With US government budgets still suffering following the very Earth-bound economic crisis, the space agency is having to work harder than ever to appeal to a wider public and persuade people of its ongoing relevance.

NASA spokeswoman Lauren Worley said: “We're constantly looking to expand our social media portfolio to include tools that will best tell NASA's story of exploration and discovery.

“Instagram has a passionate following of users who are hungry for new and exciting photos. We believe we have some of the most engaging images on and off the planet.”

Since LADEE’s launch at 11.27pm on Friday night, NASA has shared eight photos – and received around 65,000 followers. Combined with its strong presences on Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare and Reddit, the agency says it is doing better than ever at “engaging and inspiring the public”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...