Earth is a remarkable planet for many reasons. It hosts volcanoes, cats, pizza, and all other sorts of natural wonders. Sadly, it also harbors humans, which is actually pretty unfortunate, but significant in the sense that we’re found literally nowhere else. Therefore, in a lot of ways, Earth is a very lovable, lonely weirdo — except for its one friend, the moon.
A new image from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft — which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security — Regolith Explorer — shows this cosmic friendship in stunning detail. According to NASA, this composite image of the two buddies was created from data “captured by OSIRIS-REx’s MapCam instrument on October 2, 2017,” but the final product wasn’t released until Tuesday.
Three different images were combined and color-corrected to create this spectacular image. It required a bit of nipping and tucking, naturally — the moon had to be brightened since it was showing up a little faint. Even with the effects, the moon barely makes an appearance in this photo.
But what’s remarkable about this image is that it makes the Earth and moon appear much closer than they are. They’re actually 238,855 miles (384,400 km) apart.
When the images in this composite were taken, OSIRIS-REx was about 3 million miles (5 million kilometers) away from Earth, which translates to “13 times the distance between the Earth and moon,” according to NASA.
Of course, OSIRIS-REx’s day job isn’t exactly taking Instagram shots of Earth and the moon. It’s an asteroid hunter on its way to link up with an object called Bennu, which it will reach in August 2018. Until it gets there, we look forward to more photos like these — ones that remind us of our infinite loneliness in the grandeur of the cosmos.