NASA shows off OSIRIS-REx’s snapshot of Earth

OSIRIS-REx view of Earth
This color composite image of Earth was taken by the MapCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Sept. 22, just hours after the spacecraft completed its Earth gravity assist maneuver at a range of about 106,000 miles. (NASA GSFC / Univ. of Arizona Photo)

During last week’s flyby, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured a stunning portrait of Earth’s disk, spanning the Pacific from Australia to America’s West Coast.

The color composite image, created from readings that were captured on Sept. 22 while the asteroid probe zoomed past at an altitude of 106,000 miles, was released by NASA and the University of Arizona today.

You can make out Australia at lower left, and the southwestern U.S. at upper right.

The photo op arose because OSIRIS-REx’s mission navigators took advantage of Earth’s gravitational field to slingshot the 20-foot-wide probe toward the asteroid Bennu, which it’s due to reach in late 2018.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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