Years Ago, NASA's 'Earthrise' Photo Became a Gift to Humanity

Cristina Cross
December 26, 2018

No wonder that the American space program that brought three men to the moon was named after that high-flying god.

Anders is critical of NASA and its mission since the Apollo era calling the space shuttle "a serious error" and stating that NASA has mismanaged the manned program since the late lunar landings. We imagined what the world would look like when viewed from the heavens.

In 1570, the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius published the first atlas in the world.

At least one of these three stations would have a dish that would face the spacecraft at any given time, receiving their communications and passing them to Mission Control in Houston, Texas.

It was because of this remarkable perspective that Ortelius could draw so many and so accurate maps. And the earth was without form and void. "The most significant revelation of Apollo 8's journey extends far beyond our scientific-and-technological achievements, beyond our "records" and 'firsts.' We set out to explore the moon and instead discovered the Earth". Rather than go all that way just to swing around and come back, NASA made a decision to test the lunar orbital portion of the Apollo missions by putting Apollo 8 into orbit for 10 revolutions before coming home. Although the Apollo missions sought to reveal the Moon, they also powerfully revealed the limits of our own planet.

"That one image, I think, it just gives us the who and where we are in the universe so beautifully", she said.

"First of all, I thought it was oil running down the spacecraft window", he says. "I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. We can see all the way down to Cape Horn in South America".

With a slight chuckle, Commander Borman said, "Hey, don't take that, it's not scheduled".

What's really interesting about the Earthrise image is that it was completely unplanned and serendipitous.

To this day, that 1968 mission is considered to be NASA's boldest and perhaps most risky undertaking. The solution was to make it a "C-prime" mission - fly to the Moon without a lunar module.

Anders: (laughs) You got a color film, Jim? Their job was also to document possible landing sites on the southern plains of Mare Tranquillitatis. On December 24, the crew did a live TV broadcast from the Moon and read from the book of Genesis. Anders said. "There's the Earth coming up".

Apollo 8: Around The Moon and Back
How Apollo 8 astronaut snapped an iconic photo of Earth

"Oh my God, look at that picture over there!" exclaimed Anders.

Even though it would fly farther than any manned spaceship ever had and produce a photograph of the Earth from the perspective of the moon that's widely credited with launching the environmental movement, Borman said he had one overriding objective on the trip.

"I suddenly found myself 360 feet high", recalled astronaut Jim Lovell, who sat in the middle seat. Of the 865 still pictures the astronauts took, only 14 show the Earth with the lunar horizon in the foreground. "It was about 25,000 miles away where you could still recognize continents".

Such a sight inspires contrasting feelings.

The interest in the Red Planet stems from the fact that its formation and evolution are comparable to Earth which could help us learn more about our planet's history and future.

"Space rookie William Anders, however, was in charge of taking the photos".

"It was the only thing in space that had any color to it".

One of the most iconic photos of planet Earth is marking its 50th anniversary.

It still is. Ortelius called his book a theater because the Greek word theatron means "a place for seeing".

Anders' former Apollo 8 teammate, Frank Borman, was more supportive of NASA's Mars programme, telling BBC Radio 5 Live: "I firmly believe that we need robust exploration of our Solar System and I think man is part of that".

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