Nasa’s Orion spacecraft has captured a stunning photo of the Earth and moon from a point in space further from our home planet than any such craft built for human space travel has ventured thus far.
The image was taken 461 178km from Earth on the Artemis I mission, according to the US space agency, which is gearing up to return astronauts to the moon’s surface in the coming years.
The Orion capsule was blasted into orbit in mid-November on a crew-less voyage around the moon and back. The mission comes half a century after the final lunar mission of the Apollo era, which put the first person – Neil Armstrong – on the moon.
The new photo, which, like the “pale blue dot” image captured by the Voyager 1 spacecraft – and immortalised by astronomer Carl Sagan in the television series Cosmos – will serve once again help put our home planet in perspective.
The photo, taken on flight day 13 of the Artemis I mission, was captured at the Orion capsule’s maximum distance from Earth. Nasa expects Orion to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on 13 December, having completed its journey around the moon.
The US’s plans to return people to the moon come as rival China forges ahead with a project to build a base on the moon by 2028. China hopes to man the moon base with astronomers within the next decade. — (c) 2022 NewsCentral Media, with additional reporting (c) 2022 Reuters