(CNN) NASA posted a selfie taken by the Orion capsule and close-up photos of the landscape scarred by the Moon’s crater as the spacecraft continues on the Artemis 1 mission, a 25 1/2-day journey that will take it more than 40,000 miles. plus. there on the other side of the Moon.
Orion’s latest selfie, taken on Wednesday, the eighth day of the mission, by a camera on one of the capsule’s solar panels, reveals the angles of the spacecraft with a part of the Moon visible in the background. The close-up photos were taken Monday as Orion made its closest approach to the Moon, passing about 80 miles (129 kilometers) above the lunar surface.
If Orion completes its journey beyond the Moon and back to Earth, it will be the farthest a spacecraft intended to carry humans has ever traveled. For now, the capsule only carries inanimate scientific payloads.
Orion is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to eventually establish a lunar outpost that can permanently house astronauts for the first time in history, with the hope of one day paving a route to Mars.
The Artemis I mission launched on November 16, when NASA’s long-delayed Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket launched the Orion capsule into space, cementing the rocket as the most powerful operational launch vehicle ever built.
As of Thursday afternoon, the capsule was 358,972 kilometers (222,993 miles) from Earth and 89,831 kilometers (55,819 miles) from the Moon, traveling at just over 2,600 miles per hour, according to NASA.
Orion is now one day away from entering a “distant retrograde orbit” around our nearest neighbor: distant, because it will be at a very high altitude above the lunar surface, and retrograde, because it will go around the Moon in the opposite direction. . from where the natural satellite travels around the Earth.
The path is meant to “stress test” the Orion capsule, as Michael Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis mission manager, said last week.
According to NASA’s Artemis blog, the agency’s television coverage of the far retrograde orbit insertion burn is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday and the burn is scheduled for 4:52 p.m. ET.
After caressing the Moon, the Orion capsule is expected to return to Earth and make a soft landing in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.
CNN’s Jackie Wattles contributed to this report.