Earlier this month, NASA’s Lucy mission completed the first of three planned maneuvers around Earth in preparation for studying Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. However, the new spacecraft also took stunning photos of Earth and the moon before heading into deep space.
According to reports, Lucy captured several fantastic images of the moon on Oct. 16.
Lucy took the photo about six and a half hours after it first flew by Earth for its first gravity assist. In addition, it was also approximately 160,000 miles from the moon when it caught the photo.
In the pic, viewers can see the moon’s detailed surface and an 800-mile-wide patch close to the center of the last quarter moon. Viewers can also see several craters, which include the reasonably young Arzachel crater.
“The view includes the rugged, heavily cratered, Southern Highlands near the bottom of the mosaic, and the ancient, lava-filled impact basin Mare Imbrium near the top,” officials with the space agency explained.
They added: “The bright, fresh crater Copernicus is conspicuous near the left edge of the mosaic.”
The agency also revealed that Lucy created the image from five separate 1-millisecond exposures that officials have since sharpened. NASA also said that the picture covering the uppermost portion of the moon’s edge was taken earlier, resulting in a slight mismatch in the images.
NASA’s Lucy takes incredible pics of moon, people sound off online
In addition, every pixel in the mosaic image represents approximately 0.7 miles of the moon’s surface. After NASA released the jaw-dropping photos, amazed viewers quickly took to social media to give their opinion.
One person wrote on Twitter that the images were “simply stunning,” while another wrote they were left feeling “mind-boggled.” A third user wrote that the photos were “haunting” while reposting them on their account.
NASA created the Lucy spacecraft to explore and study the Trojan asteroids. According to experts, these asteroids are small celestial bodies that are remnants of our early solar system.
The Trojan asteroids orbit the Sun in two loose groups: one group leading ahead of Jupiter in its orbit, the other behind, according to reports from NASA.
The spacecraft launched this month on Oct. 16. It will spend the next 11 years in space as it completes its mission.
Per NASA, during its 12-year mission, the space vessel will explore a “record-breaking number of asteroids, flying by one main-belt asteroid, and seven Trojans.”
“Lucy embodies Nasa’s enduring quest to push out into the cosmos for the sake of exploration and science, to better understand the universe and our place within it,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
He added, “I can’t wait to see what mysteries the mission uncovers!”