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Israeli Moon Lander Captures Sunrise and Stretches Its Legs on Lunar Trip (Video)

A robotic lander in space just shot an astounding video of lunar sunrise as it zooms toward the moon.

The Israeli Beresheet lander, which launched into space in February, transmitted a video back to Earth showing the sunrise — as well as a second video showing the legs popping out of the lander in what was probably a test exercise.

SpaceIL, the organization planning to land this machine on the moon, will likely use these videos to calibrate its videos and equipment ahead of the epic landing, but for the public, these vistas are literally out of this world.

 Related: Israel's 1st Moon Lander Mission in Pictures 

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"Sunrise video from #Beresheet," SpaceIL said on Twitter, posting an emoji of a sun along with the organization's comments. "From the #spacecraft's point of view. In the video, #earth can be seen hiding the #sun & then exiting the same shadow created by the Earth and the sun's exposure. This process creates a kind of sunrise image!"

Beresheet has a long history behind it. SpaceIL was one of the entrants for the Google Lunar X Prize that was supposed to land the first commercially funded spacecraft on the moon. The contest concluded with nobody claiming the prize before the deadline. But Beresheet's development persisted, culminating in a safe liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Initially, the mission ran into a snag in space when an engine did not fire as it was supposed to, to send the spacecraft to the moon. But Beresheet recovered from the glitch; after computer resets and other troubleshooting, the engine fired as planned on Feb. 28.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.