The unmanned Israeli spacecraft bound for the Moon has been sending back some beautiful photos of the Earth, this one from a distance of almost 10,000 miles.
Engineers in Israel have been tinkering with the Beresheet (Genesis) craft’s trajectory this week, firing the engine for 72 seconds to realign before leaving the Earth’s orbit and entering the lunar orbit on Thursday.
At this point Beresheet will perform lunar capture, described as “a complex manoeuvre to enter the moon’s gravity and begin orbiting the moon before its planned landing later this month”.
Technicians in Israel have been practicing scenarios, simulations and tests in a hybrid lab, as Beresheet passed the Earth for the last time on Sunday afternoon.
The privately-funded SpaceIL craft launched successfully from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on 22 February and a series of in-orbit tests and manoeuvres ever since have reassured engineers based in Yehud in Israel.
Travelling in a series of expanding elliptical orbits around the Earth, Beresheet will have journeyed more than four million miles by the time it arrives, the longest distance ever travelled to the moon.
When it enters lunar orbit on Thursday, the craft will be about ten days away from touchdown, at which point an autonomous landing process will begin.
Yesterday, #Beresheet passed #Earth for the last time at about 1,700 km away. The team succeeded in taking rare photo of earth from approx. 16,000 KM. In the photo: the Arab Peninsula & Southeast Africa. Yesterday’s rain clouds covered #Israel. #IsraelToTheMoon pic.twitter.com/iOb1cGnEnr
— Israel To The Moon (@TeamSpaceIL) April 1, 2019