NASA’s Orion space capsule captures stunning images of the moon

NASA’s Orion space capsule captures stunning images of the moon

Nasa Orion

Orion’s mission is expected to pave the way for astronauts to fly to the moon on future missions (Picture: Nasa/Shutterstock)

The Orion spacecraft, now in its seventh day in the Artemis 1 mission around the Moon, sent back close-up images of the moon.

On Monday, the Orion capsule made its closest approach to the lunar surface during its 25-day spaceflight.

The pass, 81 miles above the far side of the moon, was followed by a critical engine burn to set the spacecraft on a path to a wide lunar orbit 40,000 miles away, the farthest a human-sized vehicle has ever traveled from Earth. .

Nasa also released close-up images of the moon, taken by Orion as it approached, and an image showing the capsule, moon and Earth in the same frame.

Orion’s mission should pave the way for astronauts to fly to the moon on future missions.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by NASA/ZUMA Press Wire Service/Shutterstock (13635731k) On day six, November 21, of the Artemis I mission, Orion's optical navigation camera captured black and white images of craters on the Moon below.  Orion uses the Optical Navigation Camera to capture images of the Earth and Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced data set to certify its effectiveness in different lighting conditions to help orient the spacecraft when future crewed missions.  NASA's Orion capsule reaches the Moon, Earth's atmosphere - November 23, 2022

The Orion spacecraft, now on its seventh day in the Artemis I mission around the Moon, returned close-up images of the moon (Photo: Nasa/Shutterstock)

The Orion engines are a variant of the R-4D engine, originally developed for the Apollo program and used on every mission to the Moon.

The White Flight Control Room team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston continued to test the spacecraft’s star trackers for their sensitivity to thermal variations as part of planned tests, and engineers used the optical navigation system to collect additional images of the Moon.

The star trackers and optical navigation system are part of Orion’s advanced guidance, navigation and control system, responsible for always knowing where the spacecraft is in space, in which direction it is pointing and where he’s going.

It even controls the propulsion system to keep the spacecraft on the right course. Optical navigation can serve later in this mission and in future missions as a backup, ensuring a safe return trip if the spacecraft loses communications.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by NASA/ZUMA Press Wire Service/Shutterstock (13635731i) On day six, November 21, of the Artemis I mission, Orion's optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon below.  Orion uses the Optical Navigation Camera to capture images of the Earth and Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced data set to certify its effectiveness in different lighting conditions to help orient the spacecraft when future crewed missions.  NASA's Orion capsule reaches the Moon, Earth's atmosphere - November 23, 2022

The capsule will spend nearly a week in lunar orbit, before returning home and plunging into the Pacific Ocean on December 11 (Photo: Nasa/Shutterstock)

Nasa will also test an algorithm intended to recover and maintain communications with Earth in the event of a prolonged loss of communications or after a temporary power outage that causes Orion to restart the hardware.

Testing this capability will give engineers confidence that it can be considered the final option for resolving a loss of communication when the crew is on board.

On Saturday, Orion will surpass the record set by Apollo 13 for the farthest distance traveled by a spacecraft designed for humans at 248,655 miles from Earth, and the spacecraft will reach its maximum distance from Earth of 268,552 miles on Monday.

Nasa’s Artemis spacecraft has successfully landed on the Moon after finally lifting off from Earth this month.

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The long-delayed space launch system lifted off Nov. 19 with the lunar spacecraft Orion on board, piloted by three test dummies.

The capsule will spend nearly a week in lunar orbit, before returning home and plunging into the Pacific Ocean on December 11.

MORE: Nasa’s Artemis spacecraft lands on the moon after series of incredible selfies

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