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NASA Shares Astonishingly Detailed Images Of Moon From Orion Flyby
NASA’s Artemis I Moon mission has exceeded all expectations, putting the space agency’s Moon ambitions to put astronauts back on the lunar surface on track. The mission kicked off on November 16 aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the most powerful rocket to have ever flown.
The SLS ferried the uncrewed Orion capsule toward the Moon, where it pulled off flybys at the beginning and the end of the mission. The latter happened earlier this week, and NASA has shared some breathtaking images taken by Orion’s Optical Navigation Camera when it passed within 79 miles of the Moon’s surface.
Artemis I Mission Returning Home
NASA’s associate admin, Jim Free took to his Twitter to share some high-resolution images from Orion’s flyby of the Moon. The spacecraft is now making its way back to earth and will most likely splash down off the coast of California, near San Diego, on December 11.
The imagery we continue to get out of @NASA_Orion's onboard cameras is outstanding. Downlinked the lunar fly-by photos yesterday, and they are incredible - a few of my favorites below. Visit https://t.co/ZrjE1SVAWC to see the rest. pic.twitter.com/5KXDF3PsLq— Jim Free (@JimFree) December 7, 2022
NASA will check the capsule for any damage and determine how it fared during its maiden voyage to the lunar orbit. The space agency will also be examining the data gathered by the spacecraft and use it for upcoming Artemis mission launches.
Building A Lunar Base
NASA’s ultimate goal with the Artemis program is to set up a permanent base on the Moon. Such a facility will also open the gates for the space agency’s first crewed mission to Mars. This would be possible if astronauts manage to effectively mine the Moon’s water ice and convert it into rocket fuel.
NASA first sent a crewed mission to the Moon in 1969. The program was shut down after a series of successful Apollo missions, marking a new era of space exploration. However, NASA believes that newer technology and commercial partnerships will allow it to push human space exploration to new heights.
Orion Spacecraft Flyby Footage
NASA also released amazing footage showing the Orion spacecraft passing over the lunar surface at an altitude of just 687 miles. The Orion spacecraft was on a test flight as part of the Artemis I Moon mission.
The flyby also took the spacecraft to within 79 miles of the Moon’s surface at one point. Orion spent around three weeks after it left Earth, and is currently on its way back to Earth. Orion had a similar close encounter with the Moon last month as well.