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Snapping more selfies, Beresheet makes last pass around Earth before Moon try

Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft selfie camera is continuing to click away as the satellite performs its largest elliptical orbit around Earth ahead of a planned Moon landing on April 11.

On Sunday, engineers with SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries released a number of photos from Beresheet’s camera, including a selfie with the Earth from 265,000 kilometers (165,000 miles) above the planet’s surface and a video of the sunrise in space.

A photo the Beresheet spacecraft took of Israel at a distance of 131,000 km in a photo released on March 24, 2019. (courtesy Beresheet)

It is currently on the last loop around the Earth, which will take until April 4. Touchdown is planned for April 11 at the Sea of Serenity.

Aside from a few small glitches with an unexpected system reset and some problems with the star tracking navigation system, the spacecraft is on schedule to make the landing.

Also on Sunday, engineers released footage of Beresheet’s landing gear deploying. The spacecraft has four landing legs that will touch down on the lunar surface.

The distance between Earth and the moon is approximately 384,000 kilometers (240,000 miles). Beresheet’s elliptical route, which saves on fuel needs by harnessing the gravitational pull of the Earth, will cover about 6.5 million kilometers (4 million miles). The spacecraft is traveling at a speed of about 10 km/sec (36,000 km/h) on its way to the Moon, or 13 times faster than the maximum speed of an F15 fighter jet.

Header image: Beresheet taking a “selfie” with the Earth at a distance of 265,000 kilometers above the planet’s surface in a photo released on March 24, 2019. (courtesy Beresheet)