NASA's asteroid probe captures an incredible 71 million kilometers of Earth – BGR


Snapping images of distant worlds, galaxies, and stars is something NASA is doing very well, but it's not often that the Space Agency has the opportunity to look at the Earth from a new angle. The mission of OSIRIS-REx is focused on a more detailed study of the asteroid than ever before, but scientists have a long way to look at our home planet.

At the end of last year, the probe came to the space scale called Bennu, and eventually entered the orbit around the asteroid in the calculated plan, in time to take a sample of its material. In mid-December, NavCam spacecraft shot a picture when looking back to Earth, and it is definitely beautiful.

In the figure you see above, three special items stand out. The three brightest objects in the frame are the Earth in the lower left corner of the picture and the Moon as the smaller bright spot next to it.

The much larger ball in the upper right corner of the frame is not the Sun (although it can be understood why this is your first thought), but actually the goal of OSIRIS-REX, Bennu. The asteroid looks stunningly bright as it reflects the sun's light, and NavCam monochrome photography takes it as a shiny lamp.

"The spacecraft's spacecraft to Bennu is only 43 miles (43 kilometers), so the asteroid in the upper right corner seems overly lit," explains the OSIRIS-REX team in the blog. "The head of the constellation Hidra is also visible in the lower right of the picture."

So we're used to seeing other planets at an incredible distance, that it's kind of nice to see the Earth, recorded so far. Finally, OSIRIS-REX did not make a long trip to Benne just to give us a neat image of the Earth, and a few months of serious scientific work for the NASA team.

Next year, the spacecraft will examine Bennu's surface before it finally touches, take a sample of the stone, and then on Earth to deliver it to passionate scientists.

Image Source: NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona / Lockheed Martin Space


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