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

Nasa Orion

The Orion mission is designed to pave the way for astronauts to fly to the moon on future missions (Image: Nasa/Shutterstock)

The Orion spacecraft, now orbiting the moon on its seventh day on the Artemis 1 mission, beamed back some close-up views of the moon.

On Monday, the Orion capsule came closest to the lunar surface on its 25-day space flight.

The pass, 81 miles over the moon’s far side, was followed by a critical engine burn to propel the spacecraft 40,000 miles further on a path to long lunar orbit, the farthest distance a manned craft 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 is designed to 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 the sixth day, 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, and provides an expanded set of data to certify its effectiveness in different lighting conditions to orient the spacecraft on future crewed missions. NASA Orion Capsule Reaches Moon, Earth's Atmosphere - November 23, 2022

The Orion spacecraft, now orbiting the moon on its seventh day in the Artemis I mission, beamed back some close-up images of the moon (Image: Nasa/Shutterstock)

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

The team at the White Flight Control Room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston continued to test the spacecraft’s star trackers to determine their sensitivity to thermal fluctuations 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, which is responsible for always knowing where the spacecraft is in space, what direction it is pointing and where it is flying.

It even controls the propulsion system to keep the spaceship on the right path. Optical navigation can serve as a backup later in this mission and in future missions to ensure a safe journey home in the event the spacecraft loses communications.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by NASA/ZUMA Press Wire Service/Shutterstock (13635731i) On the sixth day, 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, and provides an expanded set of data to certify its effectiveness in different lighting conditions to orient the spacecraft on future crewed missions. NASA Orion Capsule Reaches Moon, Earth's Atmosphere - November 23, 2022

The capsule will spend almost a week in lunar orbit before flying home and splashing into the Pacific Ocean on December 11 (Image: Nasa/Shutterstock)

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

Testing this capability will provide engineers with confidence knowing it is the last resort to resolve a loss of communications when the crew is on board.

On Saturday, Orion will surpass the Apollo 13 record for the farthest distance a human-designed spacecraft has traveled 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 successfully reached the moon after finally being shot down from Earth this month.

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The long-delayed space launch system launched on November 19 with the Orion lunar spacecraft on board, crewed by three test dummies.

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

MORE: Nasa’s Artemis spacecraft reaches the moon after a series of amazing selfies

MORE: Nasa finally launches Artemis 1 lunar rocket after months of delays

https://metro.co.uk/2022/11/24/nasas-orion-space-capsule-captures-stunning-pictures-of-the-moon-17818858/ Nasa's Orion space capsule captures stunning images of the moon

Justin Scacco

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