After a 26-day voyage to circle the Moon and return to Earth, the Orion capsule crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Sunday afternoon (11).
But, before descending into the sea, the spacecraft provided us with the last great pictures of our planet, seen from space.
You can see the Earth with a side of the waning moon, with a dark area (where it is night) and a light band (where it is day).
Orion is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return a man — and the first woman — to the moon.
By the way, it was brought back exactly 50 years after the last time this happened: on December 11, 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt became the last humans to step on our satellite.
Orion’s return ends the program’s first mission, Artemis 1, which was launched on November 16 by an SLS (Space Launch System) rocket. With no crew on board, it was intended to test the capsule’s systems and their endurance in the harsh environment of space. And it was a success.
During the trip, the small spacecraft made two flybys of the lunar surface, reaching a distance of only 128 kilometers from the lunar surface. At its farthest distance, more than 434,000 km from Earth – registerwhich corresponds to more than a thousand times the distance that the International Space Station (ISS) orbits our planet.
NASA said in a statement that Orion “remained in space longer than any other spacecraft designed for astronauts without docking with a space station, surpassing the distance record previously set during Apollo 13.”
The next challenge is to repeat the flight with people on board. This should happen next year, on Artemis 2, which also won’t land on the moon.
On the third mission, Artemis 3, scheduled for 2025, there will finally be a landing – and astronauts will step on the moon again.
But the program’s goal is much more ambitious: to create a permanent base on the Moon and a space station in orbit, which could be key to Mars exploration.[araaexploreademarte[araaexploraçãodeMarte
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