There's a new entry in the book for spacecraft selfies, and it may be one of the prettiest ever taken. NanoAvionic's MP42 microsatellite captured a photo and video of itself in orbit using an off-the-shelf GoPro Hero 7 camera mounted to a selfie stick.
The selfie shows the small satellite against a gorgeous backdrop of the blackness of space with the curve of cloudy blue Earth below. The satellite launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in April.
The company released a video on Tuesday showing the satellite cruising over the Great Barrier Reef and Australia. The video, set to a soundtrack of contemplative music, highlights the appearance of the moon and the locations of Earth landmarks.
"The reason for taking the photo and video clip with the Great Barrier Reef in the background was partly symbolic," said NanoAvionics co-founder and CEO Vytenis Buzas in a statement. "We wanted to highlight the vulnerability of our planet and the importance of Earth observation by satellites, especially for monitoring environment and climate changes."
The footage is enjoyable just for its sheer loveliness, but selfies can also be a useful part of satellite operations. "The company anticipates more future usages of real satellite footage, live and recorded, such as deployment confirmation, fault detection, micro-meteorite impacts and educational purposes," NanoAvionics said.
The company chose to use a GoPro because of the camera's image quality, affordability and wide view. NanoAvionics engineers built a custom housing for the camera, made a selfie stick and put it through tough testing on Earth to make sure it could handle the rigors of space.
We've seen selfies from other spacecraft, including the BepiColombo Mercury explorer, China's Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter and NASA's Maven orbiter. MP42's work stands out for its clarity and for how it highlights the satellite's connection to its home world. It's a beaut.