"December 7 marks the 50-year anniversary of the Blue Marble photograph. The
crew of NASA’s Apollo 17 spacecraft – the last manned mission to the Moon –
took a photograph of Earth and changed the way we visualised our planet
Taken with a Hasselblad film camera, it was the first photograph taken of the
whole round Earth and is believed to be the most reproduced image of all time.
Up until this point, our view of ourselves had been disconnected and
fragmented: there was no way to visualise the planet in its entirety.
The Apollo 17 crew were on their way to the moon when the photograph was
captured at 29,000 kilometres (18,000 miles) from the Earth. It quickly became
a symbol of harmony and unity.
The previous Apollo missions had taken photographs of the earth in part shadow.
Earthrise shows a partial Earth, rising up from the moon’s surface.
In Blue Marble, the Earth appears in the centre of the frame, floating in
space. It is possible to clearly see the African continent, as well as the
Antarctica south polar ice cap.
Photographs like Blue Marble are quite hard to capture. To see the Earth as a
full globe floating in space, lighting needs to be calculated carefully. The
sun needs to be directly behind you. Astronaut Scott Kelly observes that this
can be difficult to plan for when orbiting at high speeds.
Produced against a broader cultural and political context of the “space race”
between the United States and the Soviet Union, the photograph revealed an
unexpectedly neutral view of Earth with no borders."
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*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics