This is what it looks like to fly past the Earth in a spaceship

Nasa's Juno probe flew past us in October, capturing footage of the Earth and Moon moving through space.

There are many images of our home planet taken from space, and they rarely fail to put things in perspective. Yet, have you ever seen our planet, from space, in motion?

The video above was taken by Nasa's Juno probe as it flew past us on 23 October. That grey mass to the left of the screen at the start, drifting right, is the Moon, orbiting the blue Earth. This is what it would look like to approach the Earth in a spaceship. It is incredibly cool. (And that music? That's a composition by Vangelis, the guy who did the soundtracks for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire - Nasa has good taste.)

Juno, as its name may suggest, is on its way to explore Jupiter. It launched in August 2011, with enough momentum to reach as far as the asteroid belt before gravity pulled it back in towards the Sun - all part of Nasa's plan. As it reached the Earth again and skimmed past it received a gravity boost of a further 7.3km/s relative to the Sun, which should give it the velocity needed to reach Jupiter on the other side of the Solar System by July 2016. Once it's in orbit there, it will study the gas giant's clouds, and what's beneath them.

The video Nasa made of Juno's flypast opens with the probe roughly a million kilometres from Earth. The Moon's orbit is roughly 385,000km, which explains why the Moon shoots off to the right as Juno moves inside its orbit. Juno actually spins as it's flying along, twice per minute, so this video is a sped up one with two frames captured per minute of the same angle by Nasa engineers.

In other "things flying closely past the Earth" news, asteroid 2013 XY flew through our neighbourhood this morning:

It's probably between 30 and 70 metres across, which is considerably larger than the 15-20 metre Chelyabinsk meteor of February this year. And, best of all, we only spotted it five days ago. That's not a lot of warning for something potentially destructive (though, just to emphasise, there's no chance of this thing hitting us). Still, it goes to show just how big space is, and how little of it we know about, even in what we might consider our local community.

Ian Steadman is a staff science and technology writer at the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @iansteadman.

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Chinese loan sharks are using nudes as collateral. Is this the grim future of revenge porn?

The economics of shame. 

When female students in Guangdong, a southern province in China, applied for a small loan, they were met with a very specific demand. Send naked photos of yourself holding your ID cards, they were told – or you won’t get the money. If you don’t pay up, we’ll make the photos public.

This is according to Nandu Daily, the area’s local newspaper, but has also been reported by the Associated Press and the Financial Times. The FT places the trend in the context of the Chinese economy, where peer to peer lending sites like Jiedaibao, the platform where the students allegedly contacted the lenders, are common. Thanks to the country’s slowing economy, the paper argues, lenders are increasingly intent on making sure they’ll be repaid.

As a result, there have also been reports of property destruction and even beatings by loan sharks. Part of the problem is that these are unregulated lenders who operate through an online platform. In this case, Jiedaibao says the agreement about photos was made via different communication channels, and told the FT: “This is an illegal offline trade between victims and lenders who did it by making use of the platform.” 

This new use of naked photos in this case, though, plays to the ways that shame is now used as a weapon, especially online – and the fact that it can essentially be monetised.

Revenge porn is a huge and growing problem. As Jon Ronson noted in his book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, the internet offers a unique space in which shamings (over a naked photo, or an unwise comment) can be transmitted all over the world almost instantly. For some, this threat is simply too much to cope with, as it was for the growing number teenagers who have committed suicide after being blackmailed with naked photos

It’s telling, too, that the students targeted with these demands were, reportedly at least, women. Most victims of revenge porn are also women. The shame brought down on women who appear in these photos is not so much about their nakedness, but the implication that they've behaved in a sexual way. In China, virginity is still highly valued in marriage, and your family and friends would likely take the spread of naked photos of you extremely seriously. In Behind the Red Door, Sex in China , Richard Burger notes:

Every year, thousands of Chinese women pay for an operation to restore their hymens shortly before their wedding so that husbands can see blood on the sheets on their honeymoon night.

The strange story of these students and their loans highlights two important points. First, as anti-loan shark campaigners have argued for decades, “free choice” in signing up to extortionate fees or demands when taking out a loan is a misnomer when you’re constrained by economic need and desperation.

But second, we can’t allow the shame around female sexuality to become a commodity. We need to both protect women's rights and persecute those who share images without consent, but also fight the stigma that makes these shamings possible in the first place. It's not acceptable that the suggestion of sexual activity can still be used to ruin women's lives.

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.