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
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace