NASA Shares Stunning Images of Earth and the Moon’s Surface: PHOTOS

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NASA’s Artemis I rocket finally launched on Nov. 16, after months of delays and issues, and now the attached Orion spacecraft is sharing amazing images of Earth and the Moon. Upon liftoff, the uncrewed rocket captured images of our Earth as it made its way into space. The video from NASA shows the rocket climbing ever higher through the stratosphere, quickly making its ascent away from Earth. Left behind, the Earth resembles a large black marble.

Now, the Orion spacecraft, which is fitted with cameras inside and out, has gifted us with more stunning images from space. On Monday, Nov. 21, Artemis was about 230,000 miles from Earth and closing in on the Moon. The eventual destination is a sustained orbit around the Moon, but between here and there, Orion found time to snap some photos.

Artemis I Mission Manager Mike Sarafin said on Monday that NASA will most likely not be able to share live views of the spacecraft’s approach to the Moon. But, they are hoping to share images after the fact by streaming them.

“We’ve got a lot more [images]. We just need to get it off the spacecraft,” Sarafin said. “There is much more to come.”

Orion shared a stunning photo of the backside of the Moon as it made its approach. Orion program manager Howard Hu said that everyone had “big smiles” at NASA seeing the images. Similarly, flight director Judd Frieling said that everyone in mission control was “giddy.”

Orion Spacecraft Captures Amazing Images of Earth and Moon While Heading to Orbit

Recently, Orion’s orbital engines (OEMs) lit up to propel it into a retrograde orbit around the Moon. NASA lost contact with Orion for about 34 minutes while it approached the backside of the Moon, which is farthest from Earth. But, they regained contact when it came out from behind the Moon. Orion then shared a few snapshots of Earth from about 230,000 miles away.

 NASA Flight Director Zebb Scoville said in a statement, “This is one of those days you’ve been thinking about and dreaming about for a long, long time. This morning, we just saw the Earth set behind the moon as we just brought the next human-rated vehicle behind the moon.”

During the approach on Monday, Orion was 81 miles above the surface of the Moon, which is the closest it will get during its orbit. According to a report from the New York Post, a human-rated spacecraft hasn’t passed this close to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. Additionally, Orion will fly over the Apollo landing site on Dec. 5 and NASA will share those photos with the public. Overall, it looks like Artemis is gearing up to be a monumental mission for us all.