As it approaches the Moon, NASA’s Orion spacecraft is sending back images of Earth that bring back the “blue” images taken by the Apollo astronauts fifty years earlier.
This time, the photographer is actually a robot, built into the Artemis 1 mission camera that wasn’t.
The Round-the-Moon odyssey got off to a spectacular start today with the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System, and over the next 25 days, it’s set to blaze the trail for future space missions.
A few hours after liftoff, a camera mounted on one of Orion’s four solar instruments rotated to view the front part of the Europa-bound spacecraft – with our planet in a shadow cast against the dark side.
“Orion is looking back at Earth as it travels to the Moon, 57,000 miles from where we call home,” NASA’s Sandra Jones lamented as the image descended.
The main purpose of Orion’s 16 cameras is to monitor the performance of the capsule’s instruments from launch to fall, inside and out.
The four solar cameras can also capture images of Earth, including images of the Moon from Orion’s perspective.
“Many people have ideas for Earthrise based on the Apollo 8 high-resolution image,” David Melendrez, director of Orion Program imagery at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said in an online preview of the camera.
“The images that will be captured during the mission will be different from what people saw during the Apollo missions, but capturing the biggest events like Earthrise, Orion’s farthest distance from Earth, and the moon flyby will be very important.”
— NASA’s Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) November 17, 2022
Taking selfies with Earth was not the only thing that Orion and the Artemis 1 team did in the first 24 hours of the mission: 10 satellites of the size of a shoe box were sent from the surface of the Space Launch System after the injection of the moon.
One of the CubeSats, the Lunar IceCube, will look for signs of ice on the Moon. Another satellite, LunIR, will take pictures of the moon’s surface to show the Moon’s hot spots. of the top of the moon.
Japan’s Omotenashi satellite will attempt a “hard landing” but possible landing on the Moon, while NASA’s NEA Scout is built to extract solar radiation and fly to study a near-Earth asteroid.
In the coming weeks, the Artemis 1 crew will be monitoring Orion’s performance, as a test for a lunar orbiter mission scheduled for 2024 and a lunar landing in 2025.
Three mannequins are sitting on Orion’s seats, connected to sensors to collect information about radiation exposure and other aspects of the environment.
The mission’s next major event will take place on November 21, when Orion will make its closest approach to the Moon – passing within about 60 kilometers.
The spacecraft will fire up its main engine and take advantage of the Moon’s gravity to propel it into a 40,000-kilometer orbit.
Orion’s acid test will come when it returns to Earth and re-enters space at a speed of 24,500 mph.
The heat shield has been built for temperatures that rise to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, but Orion’s descent into the Pacific Ocean splashdown on December 11 will be the first time the heat shield has been tested worldwide.
Artemis 1 has been years in the making, and the multi-billion dollar program has come under fire. The project alone is estimated to cost more than US$4 billion.
But today’s successful launch brought nothing but praise from the White House:
NASA’s Artemis is flying.
This ship will put the first woman and the first person of color to set foot on land and will lead many students to become explorers and show America’s limitless opportunities to the world. pic.twitter.com/mIEZdVcB6M
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 16, 2022
This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the first article.