The Earth and moon from 18 million miles away, as seen by the MESSENGER space probe.
Mercury-bound NASA probe snaps first approach shots before August flyby
NASA’s Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft -- less than three months from an Earth flyby that will slingshot it toward the inner solar system -- successfully tested its main camera by snapping distant approach shots of Earth and the Moon.
MESSENGER took a set of six pictures on May 11 with the narrow-angle camera in its Mercury Dual Imaging System, or MDIS. Earth was about 18.4 million miles (29.6 million kilometers) from MESSENGER at the time, but the main processed image clearly shows bands of clouds between North and South America on Earth’s sunlit side. The image, available on the Web at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu, is cropped from the full MDIS image size of 1024x1024 pixels, and the contrast has been adjusted slightly to bring out the Moon in the same frame. The Moon was 248,898 miles (400,563 kilometers) from Earth.
Michael Buckley | EurekAlert!
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