Jason DavisNov 30, 2022

Best space pictures of the month: November 2022

Artemis I Orion lunar flyby
Artemis I Orion lunar flyby NASA's Artemis I Orion spacecraft flies past the Moon in this image captured by a camera at the tip of one of the spacecraft's solar arrays on Nov. 21, 2022. Orion launched atop the Space Launch System on Nov. 16 and used the lunar flyby to enter a Distant Retrograde Orbit (DRO) around the Moon. The dark, ringed area on the Moon's surface is the Mare Orientale impact basin.Image: NASA

It was a November to remember in spaceflight. NASA’s Space Launch System blasted off for the first time, sending the Artemis I Orion crew capsule on a mission to the Moon and back. Artemis I is an end-to-end test of the vehicles that will carry humans back to lunar orbit, paving the way towards the first crewed Moon landing since 1972. Orion will travel 2.1 million kilometers (1.3 miIlion miles) before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 11.

As Orion flew past the Moon on Nov. 21, cameras on its solar arrays gave us stunning views of the Moon and Earth. For more context, we’ve asked Nujoud Merancy, NASA's chief of exploration mission planning, to tell us more about one of these amazing pictures.

“I love this image because it was a first for Artemis I in context of the Moon. This picture is from a solar array wing tip camera as Orion approached Outbound Powered Flyby on November 21. It has a near fully illuminated disk of the rarely seen lunar farside. This maneuver was the major milestone committing Orion to a long lunar orbiting mission.

For me, these solar array cameras have been one of the things I most looked forward to. Being able to take a picture or “selfie" to put Orion in the context of space, the Earth, and the Moon is so important on this uncrewed flight test. The vehicles are the mission. The vehicles were designed, assembled, tested and touched by thousands of teammates across the world. The vehicles are their fingerprints and now we can see all of our fingerprints floating through the cosmos.”

Here are some other images from around the Solar System and beyond that caught our attention this month:

Phobos partial solar eclipse
Phobos partial solar eclipse NASA's Perseverance rover used its left Mastcam-Z camera to capture this image of the Martian moon Phobos crossing the Sun on Nov. 18, 2022.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / Edited by Jason Davis
Protostar and dark cloud L1527
Protostar and dark cloud L1527 A cloud of material is feeding the protostar within dark cloud L1527. The clouds in this infrared image by JWST's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) outline cavities created by ejections from the protostar. This image was released on Nov. 16, 2022.Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI. Image processing: J. DePasquale, A. Pagan, and A. Koekemoer (STScI)
Juno spies Io and Callisto
Juno spies Io and Callisto NASA's Juno spacecraft spied two of Jupiter's moons, Io (top) and Callisto (bottom), as it flew past the planet in November 2021. NASA released this citizen-processed version of the image in November 2022.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Thomas Thomopoulos
Sunset spacewalk
Sunset spacewalk NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Frank Rubio is pictured during a spacewalk tethered to the International Space Station's starboard truss structure. Behind Rubio, the last rays of an orbital sunset penetrate Earth's thin atmosphere as the space station flew 415 kilometers (258 miles) above the African nation of Algeria.Image: NASA
Perseverance in the afternoon
Perseverance in the afternoon NASA's Mars Perseverance rover captured this image of the tools at the end of its robotic arm using its Front Right Hazard Avoidance Camera A on Nov. 12, 2022. The image was captured in the afternoon, at 15:35 local time.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Edited by Jason Davis

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Solar snake The ESA-NASA Solar Orbiter mission captured this timelapse video of a "solar snake" crossing the surface of the Sun. The snake is a tube of plasma cooler than its surroundings, suspended by magnetic fields. It took about three hours for the snake to make the journey seen in the video, traveling at about 170 kilometers per second (106 miles per second). A plasma eruption then came from the region where the snake originated, raising the possibility that the two events were linked. The images of the solar snake were captured on Sept. 5, 2022, and this video was published by ESA on Nov. 4, 2022.Video: ESA / NASA / Solar Orbiter / EUI Team / Frédéric Auchère, IAS

Liftoff of Artemis I
Liftoff of Artemis I NASA's Artemis I mission begins with the liftoff of the Space Launch System and Orion vehicles on Nov. 16, 2022.Image: NASA/Joel Kowsky

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