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NASA asteroid hunter spies Earth from far, far away

The Osiris-Rex spacecraft sent back a striking view of Earth and the moon looking tiny against the backdrop of space.

Osiris-Rex takes a longing look back at Earth and the moon.
NASA/Osiris-Rex team and the University of Arizona

There's no better way to feel like a speck in the great expanse of the universe than to see Earth from millions of miles away.

NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft is flying through space on a mission to visit the distant asteroid Bennu, but it's also taken the time to look back at its home planet and offer some enticing views. NASA released a composite image on Tuesday showing both Earth and the moon looking like tiny bright baubles against the darkness of space.

Osiris-Rex was about 3 million miles (5 million kilometers) from Earth when it snapped this scenic view. The composite is made from three images captured in early October and the moon is brightened to help it show up. 

NASA released a very different and much closer Osiris-Rex image of Earth from last September. What a difference a few weeks makes.

NASA describes the asteroid Bennu as "a carbon-rich hunk of rock that might contain organic materials or molecular precursors to life." Osiris-Rex launched in late 2016 and is scheduled to reach its asteroid target in August. It will collect a sample from Bennu and return it to Earth, which means we may get some more lovely Earth views as the spacecraft comes back home in 2023.