NASA's Juno spacecraft took an impressive photo of Earth and the moon on its way to the solar system's biggest planet.
The image was taken six million miles (9.66 million kilometers) away on the JunoCam this past week and it paints the Earth and the moon as little dots. The camera is mounted in the center of the spacecraft and it can take color photos. Taking these kinds of photos in the early part is part of the mission checklist of the Juno spacecraft to test out the instruments.
Even though it is a test, NASA researchers say this kind of image is still rare and incredible.
This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely, Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement. This view of our planet shows how Earth looks from the outside, illustrating a special perspective of our role and place in the universe. We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves.
Juno is on its way to Jupiter as part of a five year and 400-million-mile journey to understand the origin and evolution of the biggest planet. Juno has already covered the distance from Earth to the moon (about 250,000 miles or 402,000 kilometers) in less than one day's time.
During its mission on Jupiter, orbit the planet's poles 33 times and use its eight science instruments to probe beneath the gas giant's obscuring cloud cover. On top of learning about the origin and evolution of Jupiter, Juno will teach researchers about its structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core.
Juno comes with three 34-foot-long solar arrays and a high-gain antenna in the middle. It looks like a windmill and will slowly spin its way to Jupiter. Those arrays will power Juno as it heads to Jupiter.
The mission was launched a few weeks ago on August 5, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.