On Sept. 25, 2018, Parker Solar Probe captured a view of Earth as it sped toward the first Venus gravity assist of the mission. Earth is the bright, round object visible in the right side of the image.
Parker Solar Probe view of Earth and surrounding sky
Earth and Moon, as seen by Parker Solar Probe
The hemispherical shaped feature in the middle of the right-hand image is a lens flare, a common feature when imaging bright sources, which is caused by reflections within the lens system. In this case, the flare is due to the very bright Earthshine. Close passes by Venus and Mercury may occasionally create similar patterns in the future, but these are limited cases and do not affect the science operations of the instrument.
Some of the visible objects in the image — like Pleiades to the low-left of Earth in the right-hand image and the two bright objects, Betelgeuse and Bellatrix, near the bottom of the left-hand image — appear elongated because of reflections on the edge of the detector.
By Sarah Frazier
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Last Updated: Oct. 24, 2018
Editor: Rob Garner