Moon and Earth from Chang'e 5-T1 spacecraft

Moon and Earth from Chang'e 5-T1 spacecraft

Described at times as a big blue marble, from some vantage points Earth looks more like a small blue marble. Such was the case in this iconic image of the Earth and Moon system taken by the Chang'e 5-T1 mission.


The Moon appears larger than the Earth because it was much closer to the spacecraft's camera. Displaying much of a surface usually hidden from Earth, the Moon appears dark and gray when compared to the more reflective and colorful planet that it orbits. The robotic Chang'e 5-T1 spacecraft, predominantly on an engineering test mission, rounded the Moon last Tuesday returned to Earth on Friday. Image Credit: Chinese National Space Administration, Xinhuanet

A shot of the Earth and Moon taken by the service module of the Chang'e-5 T1
A shot of the Earth and Moon taken by the service module of the Chang'e-5 T1 lunar return mission.


Chang'e 5 Photo of Moon and Earth
Chang'e 5 Photo of Moon and Earth

China's lunar orbiter test spacecraft has sent back another glorious image of the Earth and Moon after completing its initial voyage around the Moon and back.
The State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), which oversees China's space activities, said that camera of the service module took the shot at a distance of 540,000 km from the Earth, 920,000 km from the Moon.


A closeup of Mare Marginis, a lunar sea that lies on the very edge of the lunar nearside
A closeup of Mare Marginis, a lunar sea that lies on the very edge of the lunar nearside. 
Credit: Xinhua News


A view of Earth on 2014, from the Chinese Chang’e-5 T1 spacecraft
A view of Earth on October 24, 2014, from the Chinese Chang’e-5 T1 spacecraft. 
Credit: Xinhua News

Test mission extended


The main aim of the test flight around the Moon was to test technology need for a high-velocity return from the Earth's neighbor ahead of a lunar sample return mission. The Chang'e-5 mission is currently slated for 2017.
As the Chang'e-5 T1 spacecraft neared Earth, a capsule separated from the service module and successfully re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and landed as planned in Inner Mongolia, paving the way for the future sample return mission.
However following the success, Xu Dazhe, head of SASTIND, announced that the service module would return to lunar orbit for an extended mission. This rendering from CCTV shows the service module with the capsule still attached on the underside.
The revealed plans to send the probe to the Earth-Moon L2 point sparked much interest and curiousity in the space community.
Earlier, Chang'e-5 T1 had provided other wondrous snaps of its journey around the Moon, including this iconic shot of the Earth from the far side of the Moon.