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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.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for Space.com who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @HowellSpace.

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