The team behind the OSIRIS-REx mission unveiled the spacecraft’s first image of a planet rich with life: Earth.
"It really felt like I was out there in space looking back at our home planet,” said principal investigator Dante Lauretta.
On Friday, Earth’s gravity gave OSIRIS-REx a boost
into the depths of space.
The spacecraft’s map camera recorded multiple images from about 170,000 kilometers away.
Dani DellaGiustina was instrumental in assembling the composite image of Earth.
DellaGiustina said she's really looking forward to how OSIRIS-REx fares during the journey to asteroid Bennu for sample extraction.
“I can't wait until we see those pictures of asteroid Bennu. I have to wait about a year from now but it will be a really tremendous day,” DellaGiustina said.
Lauretta noted the success of Friday’s Earth flyby is encouraging as OSIRIS-REx continues its mission.
"My hope is that it looks like there are a lot of great areas to get a sample from and my fear is that it's going to be a real, rugged rocky world so the first images are going to determine how the rest of the mission plays out,” Lauretta said.
Over the next two weeks, OSIRIS-REx will utilize three of its instruments to scan the Earth and Moon.
OSIRIS-REx’s expected arrival at Bennu is slated for late 2018.
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