Published: Thu, March 07, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Israel spacecraft sends 'selfie' on maiden mission to moon

Israel spacecraft sends 'selfie' on maiden mission to moon

During its weeklong science mission, Beresheet will measure the moon's magnetic field and send back high-resolution views of its surroundings - no doubt including an Apollo-style picture of Earth looming above the lunar surface.

The selfie shows a part of the Beresheet spacecraft with the Earth in the background from a distance of 37,600 km (23,363.5 miles).

It rocketed from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on February 21 and has been circling Earth in ever bigger loops.

The 585-kilogram (1,290-pound) craft took off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX company of entrepreneur Elon Musk. Touchdown is planned for April 11 at the Sea of Serenity.

So far, only Russian Federation, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometre (239,000-mile) journey and landed on the moon. Apart from landing on the moon, the spacecraft is also expected to measure the lunar magnetic field, which will help scientists understand the moon's formation. The spacecraft has a time capsule loaded with digital files containing a Bible, children's drawings, Israeli songs, memories of a Holocaust survivor and the blue-and-white Israeli flag.

If is successfully lands, Israel will become the fourth lunar nation - China became the third, after the United States and the Soviet Union, in 2013.

Beresheet missed one of its early maneuvers due to a computer glitch, but it's back on an orbital itinerary that should lead to a landing in a relatively flat area of the moon known as Mare Serenitatis.

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