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Our Changing View of Earth from Space: Photos

April 20, 2020 in History

By Kieran Mulvaney

Since the Apollo missions began, space programs have offered a unique perspective on our home planet.

The Apollo program transfixed the United States and the world in the 1960s for its heroic effort to fulfill the promise of President John F. Kennedy to go to the moon. But its most endearing legacy may have been, not visiting the barren world that is our planetary companion, but granting us a view of the bounteous world that is our home.

When Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders snapped a photograph of Earth, partially in shadow, rising above the moon’s surface in 1968, he provided the clearest image yet seen of our world and its fragility in space.

Through interplanetary probes, orbiting satellites and camera-wielding astronauts, NASA and partners have compiled an ever-growing image library of our own planet.

Taken by the crew of Apollo 17, the last crew to set foot on the moon, this powerful image of the planet was dubbed “Blue Marble.” Taken on December 7, 1972 and released at a time of increased environmental awareness, it has been described as “one of the most iconic images, not just of our time, but of all time.”

View the 15 images of this gallery on the original article

‘Earthrise,’ ‘Blue Marble’ and ‘Pale Blue Dot’

The Apollo missions, which concluded in 1972, coincided with the birth of the modern environmental movement—the founding of Friends of the Earth in 1969 and Greenpeace in 1971, the first Earth Day in 1970, among other seminal events—and the sight of Earth from space offered inspiration and motivation. Many years later, photographer Galen Rowell described Earthrise as “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.”

Earthrise was followed by Blue Marble, a view of the Earth taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft in 1972. That was the last of the Apollo moon missions, but NASA’s space probes continued to take longing glances back toward their home world.

Among the most famous of those images was taken in 1990. On the initiative of Carl Sagan, who first proposed photographing Earth with Voyager cameras in 1981, Voyager 1 snapped the image of a barely visible Earth that became known as the “Pale Blue Dot.” Voyager also captured images of Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus, and staff at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory mounted the set as a mosaic on an auditorium wall. The …read more

Source: HISTORY