NASA’s Orion Captures New Breathtaking Pictures Of The Moon

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When a meteorite crashes into the moon, the crater left behind is often preserved for billions of years, as if time had stopped moving for it. This is due to the fact that, in contrast to Earth, our moon’s satellite does not have any weather to wipe away the impact, nor does it have significant geologic activity to cover the surface in fresh rock. The new Orion spacecraft that was developed by NASA is currently participating in an important unmanned mission around the moon to test the capabilities of the space capsule. Recent photographs obtained by it reveal the heavily cratered surface of the moon in exquisite detail. On November 23, the space agency shared these photographs with the public that were taken during the Artemis I mission.

The Orion capsule’s optical navigational camera, which scientists are now testing in preparation for potential future moon missions, was used by NASA to capture the black and white photographs. Orion makes use of the optical navigation camera to take pictures of the Earth and the Moon at various phases and distances. This helps provide an enhanced body of data to certify the effectiveness of the camera under different lighting conditions, which will be helpful for orienting the spacecraft on future missions that will include crew members.

Credit: NASA

Orion was around 130 kilometers (80 miles) above the ground when it took some of these pictures. Some recent photographs of the moon show it to be an arid wasteland peppered with craters and highlands. Importantly, NASA believes that some of the craters on the satellite contain abundant amounts of water ice, which is a resource that will be required for any future expeditions to deep space.

The Orion spacecraft, which will one day carry as many as six astronauts, still has a ways to go before reaching several significant milestones. NASA plans to light up the spacecraft’s engines on Friday evening and launch it into an orbit that will propel it around 50,000 miles beyond the moon’s orbit. There, it will complete nearly six days’ worth of orbits around the moon. After then, the Orion spacecraft will start its engines once more in order to escape the moon’s gravity and continue its journey back to Earth.