Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now Join Now!

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

   Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Sighting the homeworld

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

17-05-2010 11:40 CDT

Topics: pics of Earth by planetary missions, Hayabusa (MUSES-C), mission status, Earth, the Moon

Coming closer every day, Mr. Hayabusa has sighted his final destination: his homeworld, Earth, and its attendant Moon. It's not an impressive photo, because even at Hayabusa's 13-plus-million-kilometer distance from Earth, our planet is too bright, overpowering the design limits of the sensitive star tracker camera that was used to take this navigational image. What's significant about it is that Hayabusa is close enough that the camera no longer sees the Earth-Moon system as one searingly bright point of light; the star tracker now resolves ours as a double planet, a big rocky world with a big rocky companion, spinning together in space.

Sighting the home world

JAXA / ISAS

Sighting the home world
Hayabusa's star tracker shot this photo of the Earth-Moon system on May 12, 2010, within 13.5 million kilometers of its home world. The spacecraft is aimed for a June 13 return of its sample capsule to Earth. The star tracker is designed to photograph stars, so targets as bright as the Moon and Earth are overpoweringly bright. Neither body actually subtends more than one pixel; their apparent size results from their bright points of light spilling over into adjacent pixels. However, the star tracker successfully separates the light of the Moon and Earth, resolving them as distinct points of bright light.

Here's some more detailed information provided by JAXA about the viewing geometry and background stars in this photo.

Imaging geometry for Hayabusa's May 12, 2010 photo of Earth

ISAS / JAXA

Imaging geometry for Hayabusa's May 12, 2010 photo of Earth
 
See other posts from May 2010

 

Or read more blog entries about: pics of Earth by planetary missions, Hayabusa (MUSES-C), mission status, Earth, the Moon

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Featured Images

NavCam view of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 31, 2014

South Georgia island
ATV-5 and a waning moon
Moscow at night
More Images

Featured Video

View Larger »

Fly to an Asteroid!

Travel to Bennu on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft!

Send your name

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!