When the world saw how earth looked from the vicinity of moon

Published on Aug 23, 2022 05:00 PM IST

It was taken by the spacecraft that was part of the Lunar Orbiter program to photograph the potential landing sites for the then upcoming Surveyor and Apollo missions.

The Lunar orbiter 1 took the first photograph of Earth from the surrounding of Moon.(Image credit: NASA)
The Lunar orbiter 1 took the first photograph of Earth from the surrounding of Moon.(Image credit: NASA)
By | Edited by Aryan Prakash

On this day, back in 1966 the world got to see the first view of Earth from the side of the Moon. The black & white hazy picture transmitted to Earth by Lunar Orbiter I became a reminder of how far humanity had advanced in such a short time.

The Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft took the photo in its 16th orbit and transmitted it to the NASA tracking station at Robledo De Chavela near Madrid, Spain. This was not a planned photoshoot but came unexpectedly while the spacecraft was on another assigned mission.

The spacecraft was part of the Lunar Orbiter program to photograph the potential landing sites for the then upcoming Surveyor and Apollo missions. It was sent to record smooth landing surfaces on the moon. First for the Surveyor mission’s robotic spacecrafts and then ultimately for the Apollo mission of making human land on the Moon.

The image displays the crescent of the Earth as it was shot just before the spacecraft was about to cross behind the moon. Captured by the onboard Eastman Kodak camera, the picture had poor resolution. In 2008, the NASA Ames Research Center undertook the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project and digitally enhanced it into a high-resolution image.

Reworked Image of the Earth which was taken by the Lunar Orbiter 1.( Image Credit: NASA / LOIRP)
Reworked Image of the Earth which was taken by the Lunar Orbiter 1.( Image Credit: NASA / LOIRP)

This figure, however, was not the first photo of our Earth. In Fact it was the first photo of Earth from the proximity of the moon.

In 1935, the Explorer II balloon was able to look at the spherical horizon of Earth by reaching an altitude of 13.7 miles (roughly 22 km). Then almost eleven years later, on Oct. 24, 1946, a V-2 missile (a German missile) carrying a 35-millimetre motion picture camera took the first shots of Earth against the black vastness of space.

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