OSIRIS-REx Captures New Earth-Moon Image from 39.5 Million Miles

NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured a new Earth-Moon image on Jan. 17, 2018, from a distance of 39.5 million miles (63.6 million kilometers). Spacecraft used its NavCam1 imager to take this photo, as part of an engineering test. In the image, The Earth and the moon are just two bright dots against the vastness of black space – which reminds us Carl Sagan’s famous speech“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”

Earth and Moon from 39.5 million miles. OSIRIS-REx image captured on January 17, 2018
NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured a new Earth-Moon image on Jan. 17, 2018, from a distance of 39.5 million miles (63.6 million kilometers). Spacecraft used its NavCam1 imager to take this photo, as part of an engineering test. In the image, The Earth and the moon are just two bright dots against the vastness of black space – which reminds us Carl Sagan’s famous speech“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”
The purpose of OSIRIS-REx spacecraft (acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) is to study, map and return samples for detailed analysis from asteroid 101955 Bennu, a carbon-rich hunk of rock that might contain organic materials or molecular precursors to life. It was launched on September 8, 2016, and expected return date is September 24, 2023. If successful, OSIRIS-REx will be the first NASA spacecraft to return samples from an asteroid.
101955 Bennu was discovered on September 11, 1999 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project, a collaboration of the United States Air Force, NASA, and the MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory for the systematic detection and tracking of near-Earth objects. It is It is a potential Earth impactor. It has a 1-in-2,700 chance of impacting Earth in the late 22nd century. With a mean diameter of approximately 492 meters (1,614 ft; 0.306 mi), it can wipe out our civilization if it impact our planet.
This is a cropped and resized image. You can see the original image on NASA web site.

When the camera acquired the image, the spacecraft was moving away from home at a speed of 19,000 miles per hour (8.5 kilometers per second).

Earth is the largest, brightest spot in the center of the image, with the smaller, dimmer Moon appearing to the right. Several constellations are also visible in the surrounding space. The bright cluster of stars in the upper left corner is the Pleiades in the Taurus constellation. Hamal, the brightest star in Aries, is located in the upper right corner of the image. The Earth-Moon system is centered in the middle of five stars comprising the head of Cetus the Whale.

NavCam1, a grayscale imager, is part of the TAGCAMS (Touch-And-Go Camera System) navigation camera suite. Malin Space Science Systems designed, built, and tested TAGCAMS; Lockheed Martin integrated TAGCAMS to the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and operates TAGCAMS.

Previously, OSIRIS-REx acquired another amazing Earth-Moon image on October 2, 2017.

If you like rocket launch videos like me, here’s the liftoff of OSIRIS-REx on September 8, 2016. An Atlas V rocket lifts off at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.The mission is to send NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. This will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, retrieve at least two ounces of surface material and return it to Earth for study.

Here is a NASA video about OSIRIS-REx mission, prepared before it was launched.

A video explaining OSIRIS-REx’ Earth slingshot maneuver. The probe needed the gravity assist of Earth to get to asteroid Bennu.

Sources

  • “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Captures New Earth-Moon Image” on NASA.gov

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