Science

Check out this incredible new picture of Earth

The picture was taken 106,000 miles away by an unmanned spacecraft heading to an asteroid.

This is the new picture of planet Earth beautifully captured by a camera on a passing spacecraft some 106,000 miles (170,000 km) away.

The image is centred on the Pacific Ocean, with Australia clearly visible to the bottom left of the picture.

Under swirly clouds at the top right is Baja California and the southwestern United States.

The Earth as taken by Nasa's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft (Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona)
(Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre/University of Arizona)

It was taken on September 22 by the MapCam on Nasa’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft just after it completed its Earth gravity assist.

The manoeuvre lets the spacecraft use the Earth’s gravitational pull to give it a boost on its way to the asteroid Bennu.

The stripes at the top of the picture are caused by short exposure times. The image was captured in just three milliseconds.

A Nasa spokesman explained: “Short exposure times are required for imaging an object as bright as Earth, but are not anticipated for an object as dark as the asteroid Bennu, which the camera was designed to image.”

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to rendezvous with Bennu in August 2018.

As well as snapping a picture of Earth with the specialist camera, the team back on home soil have used the fly-past to test other on-board equipment.

OSIRIS-REx’s mission is to collect a sample from Bennu and then return it to Earth on September 24 2023.

Happy Sample Return Day! On this date in 2023, OSIRIS-REx will come close to Earth again–this time to deliver a sample of asteroid Bennu. Learn more: http://bit.ly/2hq5gQ1

Posted by NASA's OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission on Sunday, September 24, 2017

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