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NASA Artemis I Mission Beams Back Moon’s Closest Images
NASA’s Artemis I Moon mission left Earth’s gravity on November 16 to embark on a journey to the Moon. The space agency’s Orion capsule, on its sixth day, sent back some breathtaking images of the lunar surface. The spacecraft was at its closest to the moon (130km) when it clicked the image.
NASA took to its Instagram page to share the images captured using Orion’s optical navigational system. The cameras aboard the capsule capture in black-and-white colors. The post’s caption read, “No crater photos than these.”
Closest Approach To The Moon in Five Decades
NASA released four images of different parts of the lunar surface. The images are said to be the closest ones captured since the last Apollo mission in 1975. The Instagram post also explained the key regions of the lunar surface seen in the image.
The first image shows the craters on the Moon, while the second and the third image shows them closely. The last slide of the post is the closest image taken by the spacecraft. Craters within craters can be seen in the image alongside the texture of the lunar surface shaped by space rock impacts.
It will be the first time after over 50 years that a space capsule has performed a flyby of the Moon. The Orion, built by Lockheed Martin for NASA, comes packed with cameras on the inside and outside that helped take these images.
“Pale Blue Dot” Image Of Earth
The Orion capsule made a critical flyby to ensure it is placed in the lunar orbit. Along the way, the spacecraft captured stunning images of Earth.
NASA lost connection with the spacecraft for 34 minutes just before its engines lit up to push it into a distant retrograde orbit. The space agency re-acquired the connection when the spacecraft came out from the Moon’s dark side. Soon after, Orion shared views of the “pale blue dot” from 230,000 miles away.
This is one of those days you’ve been thinking about and dreaming about for a long, long time,” said Zebb Scoville, NASA Flight Director. “This morning, we just saw the Earth set behind the moon as we just brought the next human-rated vehicle behind the moon.”
New Era Of Space Exploration
The Artemis I mission has successfully kicked off NASA’s ambition to explore deep space. The mission will be laying the groundwork for upcoming Artemis missions. NASA aims to set up a sustainable human base on the lunar surface and launch deep space missions.
The Artemis II mission is expected to take astronauts into lunar orbit in 2023, while the Artemis III mission, launching in 2024 or 2025, will see humans set foot on the Moon first time after the Apollo missions.