A close-up photograph of the lunar surface by the Artemis I Mission. Image Credit: NASA.

Here’s What Artemis I Saw As it Made its Closest Approach to the Moon

The spacecraft passed some 130 kilometers from the lunar surface when it turned its cameras on to take high-resolution photographs of the Moon.


NASA’s Orion spacecraft continues performing admirably as it is inserted into a lunar orbit. NASA reports that the spacecraft has finally reached its destination after performing an 88-second burn on November 25, allowing it to enter a retrograde orbit around Earth’s natural satellite. As reported by the space agency, the spacecraft was traveling some 92,000 kilometers above the lunar surface when it made its latest engine burn. But before the spacecraft was inserted into a retrograde orbit, it had to pass close to the Moon’s surface. As the spacecraft made its way around Luna, it took some of the closest photographs of the surface.

Optical Navigation Camera

Flight Day 6: Orion's Optical Navigation Camera Captures Lunar Surface
Now, scientists will monitor the spacecraft’s telemetry data and keep an eye on key systems while the spacecraft continues orbiting the moon in deep space. During its close flyby of the lunar surface, it turned its cameras on and started photographing the Moon. On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, the Orion spacecraft’s Optical Navigation Camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon during its closest approach.Flight Day 6: Orion's Optical Navigation Camera Captures Lunar Surface


130 kilometers from the surface

Orion uses the Optical Navigation Camera to take photographs of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances. This provides an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness in different lighting conditions. In turn, this will help orient the spacecraft in future crewed missions, according to NASA. Artemis I is literally paving the way for humankind back to the lunar surface. When the spacecraft captured these photographs, it was located around 130 kilometers from the lunar surface. This allowed its cameras to snap high-resolution photographs of some of the craters, identifying numerous key characteristics of the Moon’s surface.

Check out the entire album here.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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