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NASA's asteroid spacecraft gets a gorgeous look at Earth

The Osiris-Rex spacecraft may be destined to study a distant asteroid, but a lovely Earth portrait shows it still has a fondness for home.

NASA's Osiris-Rex gets a good look at its home planet.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

Seeing the Earth from space never gets old. NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft is on a mission to meet up with an asteroid, but it took a moment to capture a wondrous new look at Earth from its vantage point in space. The space agency released the color composite image on Tuesday. 

The image highlights the Pacific Ocean and shows a cloudy planet with Australia, Baja California and a touch of the US in view. The goth-looking strips of black at the top of the picture are artifacts created by the camera's short exposure times. 

Osiris-Rex picked up the scenic view on Sept. 22 from a distance of about 106,000 miles (170,000 kilometers). The spacecraft had just completed a run past the planet that will help aim it at the asteroid Bennu, its main target. Astronomers on Earth tracked the spacecraft as it came near.

Osiris-Rex is expected to reach Bennu in 2018 to survey the asteroid, retrieve a sample from the surface and bring it back to Earth for delivery in 2023.