Experience the vast bleakness of space with new moon photos from NASA

Part of the far side of the moon looms just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this image released Nov. 21, 2022, from the Artemis I mission. The darkest spot visible near the center of the image is Mare Orientale.

Part of the far side of the moon looms just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this image released Nov. 21, 2022, from the Artemis I mission. The darkest spot visible near the center of the image is Mare Orientale.

NASA has released stunning new close-up photos of the moon, thanks to the Orion spacecraft.

Orion passed just 81.1 miles above the lunar surface on Monday and then headed to the far side of the moon, which we usually can’t see from Earth.

The spacecraft has been on its cosmic journey since Nov. 16, when it launched atop the Space Launch System rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The Artemis I mission has finally taken off after years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns. NASA is working to return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo program 50 years ago.

The capsule will enter a “distant retrograde orbit” around the moon on Friday. The “distant” means it’s very high off the surface of the moon — about 50,000 miles. Orion will then continue to circle the moon for a week and is expected to land off the coast of California on December 11.

On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion's optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the moon.  Its job is to photograph the moon at different phases and distances;  data on different lighting conditions should be useful to help navigate with humans later.

On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the moon. Its job is to photograph the moon at different phases and distances; data on different lighting conditions should be useful to help navigate with humans later.

On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the moon. Its job is to photograph the moon at different phases and distances; data on different lighting conditions should be useful to help navigate with humans later.

If all goes well with the mission, humans could see these craters IRL in 2024.

If all goes well with the mission, humans could see these craters IRL in 2024.

If all goes well with the mission, humans could see these craters IRL in 2024.

If all goes well with this mission, according to New Scientist magazine, it will break the Apollo 13 record for the longest distance traveled by a man-designed spacecraft.

Definitely not made out of cheese.

Definitely not made out of cheese.

Definitely not made out of cheese.

Still feeling insignificant?  This first high-resolution image, taken on the first day of the Artemis I mission, was captured by a camera at the tip of one of Orion's solar arrays.  The spacecraft was 57,000 miles from Earth when the image was captured.

Still feeling insignificant? This first high-resolution image, taken on the first day of the Artemis I mission, was captured by a camera at the tip of one of Orion’s solar arrays. The spacecraft was 57,000 miles from Earth when the image was captured.

Still feeling insignificant? This first high-resolution image, taken on the first day of the Artemis I mission, was captured by a camera at the tip of one of Orion’s solar arrays. The spacecraft was 57,000 miles from Earth when the image was captured.

If you’d like to feel even more like a tiny molecule in an infinite universe, head over to NASA’s Flickr stream to see more photos and videos from the mission.

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