In another set of images, we see Orion’s solar array and the moon in the background, recreating a moonrise against the backdrop of an empty space. The moon’s crater-laden surface is on full display here. Unlike Earth, these unique surface features are not a result of erosion, because the Moon lacks an atmosphere. Research suggests that these craters were formed when floating rocks and comets smashed against the moon’s surface and left permanent scars. Samples of lunar regolith suggest that some of these impact events created enough heat to form glass beads out of the surrounding material. As for the radial lines around some of these impact sites, they are called “ejecta rays” and were formed when objects were blasted in all directions after an impact event.
The most stunning image from Orion’s album is that of a crescent, which is actually Earth illuminated on just one side, making it look like the Moon as we see it in the sky every month. The moon’s signature craters are again visible in all their glory, alongside a portion of the Orion itself. The next major challenge for the Orion will be its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere when it will be moving “hotter and faster than ever before,” according to NASA administrator Bill Nelson. It will be the final test at assessing the suitability of the Orion vehicle for ferrying a crew to the Moon as part of the Artemis II mission.
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