NASA’s Orion capsule has sent back stunning pictures of the moon. The spacecraft swept 130 kilometers (80 miles) above the lunar surface during the Artemis 1 mission’s closest approach to Earth’s natural satellite.
In a press release posted on Instagram, NASA explained that the image was taken using Orion’s optical navigation system, which takes black and white images of the Earth and Moon at different phases and distances.
NASA has shared four images of different regions of the moon. According to the publication, the released images are the closest images taken of the satellite since the end of the Apollo program in 1975.
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The post also said, “Orion has also passed over the landing points of Apollo 11, 12 and 14 and is on its way into a distant retrograde orbit, which is an elevated orbit that is moving Orion in the opposite direction that the Moon is traveling around Earth..”
This will be the first time a space capsule has completed a flyby of the Moon in half a century. Artemis I is an uncrewed mission designed to test a NASA Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft before astronauts go flying on a future mission. If the mission is successful, Artemis I will follow a human flight around the Moon in 2024 (Artemis II) and may lead to the landing of the first woman and first person of color on the Moon the following year.
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