Sighting the home world

Sighting the home world
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. JAXA / ISAS

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

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