NASA’s Orion photographed the Earth and moon from a quarter of a million miles away

NASA’s Orion photographed the Earth and moon from a quarter of a million miles away

The Orion spacecraft record distance to Earth apparently made for stunning photography. NASA has shared a photo taken by the Artemis I vehicle on Monday with both the Earth and Moon in the background. Like some Apollo photography or Voyager 1’s”Light blue dot,” the photo puts humanity’s home into perspective — our world is just one small planet in a much larger cosmos.

Orion took the snapshot around its maximum distance from Earth of 268,563 miles. That’s the furthest distance traveled by a human-centered spacecraft, surpassing even Apollo 13’s 1970 record of 248,655 miles. Notably, Artemis I represents the first time explorers intended to travel that far away — Apollo 13 only ventured that far from Earth because NASA’s emergency flight plan required the moon as a slingshot.

Ars Technica notes that this early Artemis flight has so far exceeded NASA’s expectations. While the mission team has completed only 31 of the 124 core objectives so far, it is adding goals such as extensive thruster testing. About half of the remaining activities are underway, the rest largely depends on the return to Earth.

Orion is expected to hit the coast of San Diego on December 11. The Artemis program has been covered numerous delaysand no humans are now expected to land on the moon until 2025 or 2026. NASA originally hoped for a lunar landing in 2024. Still, Artemis I’s current performance suggests that the space agency’s efforts are finally paying off.

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