NASA joins Instagram: Bring on the square, filtered photos of space

Good news, space-loving hipsters: NASA has joined Instagram.

As of Friday morning, you won’t have to go hunting around the Internet for all those images of galaxies that look like animals, rockets about to launch, and Curiosity’s adventures on Mars. They’ll show up right in your Instagram stream, in that square format you’ve come to know and love.

They will also be accompanied by fairly lengthy captions to help you understand a bit of the science behind what you see.

The agency kicked off the account Friday morning with a full-color image of Earth rising over the horizon of the moon, taken from Apollo 11 in July 1969.


“Over the stark, scarred surface of the moon, the Earth floats in the void of space, a watery jewel swathed in ribbons of clouds,” the agency wrote. (More than 3,000 people have liked the image so far.)

A few hours later, NASA’s Instagram followers were treated to a never-before-seen image of the dark side of the moon, courtesy of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Next came an image of the moon as seen from the space station.

(You will find all these images and more in the gallery above).


NASA’s lunar-heavy debut on Instagram was deliberate. The social media team made Friday’s stream all about the moon to build anticipation for the launch of the agency’s latest lunar mission, LADEE, on Friday at 8:27 p.m. PDT. (You can watch the launch, live, right here.)

NASA plans to post photos from the launch site both before and after LADEE leaves the planet.

Followers of NASA’s account can expect daily images from the space agency, including pictures from the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes, the International Space Station, satellites that study Earth, rockets and historical photos, said John Yembrick, NASA’s social media manager. (You can follow along by going to

“It’s going to be very diverse,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “We’ll be covering a full spectrum of NASA activities.”

As to why it took NASA so long to join Instagram, Yembrick said the photo-sharing site had been on his team’s radar for a while, but there were a lot of privacy and legal hurdles that had to be cleared first.

He also noted that the NASA Ames Research Center has been using the service for several months.

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