A NASA spacecraft beams back farewell images of our planet.
On August 3, 2004, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft launched into space, beginning an epic 4.9 billion-mile journey through the inner solar system on a mission to orbit Mercury. To conserve fuel, the spacecraft executed a gravity-assist flyby of Earth on August 2, 2005, that altered its trajectory and pointed it toward the sun. During the maneuver, several hundred images of Earth were taken using two onboard cameras. Assembled into a sequence, the images offer fascinating views of our home planet at varying scale. The sequence begins with an image of Earth from a distance of 40,761 miles. Over 24 hours, the size of Earth's sphere decreases as the spacecraft travels deeper into space, taking parting shots from beyond the moon's orbit, more than 270,000 miles away. Watch the video to see it for yourself.