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News – Earthrise, photo that changed the way we see the world, 50 years ago


OUT OF THIS WORLD | What's New in Space – The Biggest News Coming to Earth from Space

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist / Science Writer

Monday, December 24, 2018, at 15:57 – Fifty years ago, Apollo astronaut William Anders captured one of the most iconic images of our home, revealing how fragile it is, deep in space. How is this image still affecting us today?

On December 24, 1968, NASA astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders became the three humans who traveled the furthest from our planet – a record that still exists today. Onboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft, the trio was part of the first manned mission to the Moon and back, and although they did not land on the surface during that (or any other) voyage, they captured one of Earth's most beautiful images to date.

It was at the beginning of their third orbit around the Moon, as they took pictures of the surface features that passed beneath them, that they noticed the Earth rising above the lunar horizon. Fighting for a roll of colored film, to capture this incredible sight, Anders drew the now famous photo "Earthrise".

Earthrise, captured by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders on December 24, 1968. Credit: NASA


The video above, produced by NASA's Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio, is an accurate depiction of what Borman, Lovell, and Anders would have seen out of their spacecraft as the Earth rose into view.

It is this rotation that is more important, in fact – more important than it is at first apparent. In the two previous orbits around the Moon, the trio did not see Earth in their viewports. The orientation of the spacecraft tilted their viewports so they could see only the surface of the Moon passing down. If they had not started this scrolling maneuver, they would have lost it again, but the scroll turned the ship perfectly, so that it brought the horizon and the rising Earth to their line of sight.

According to NASA, it is believed that this image has provoked the modern environmental movement.

In The conversation:

Although not the first image of the Earth of our Moon, Earthrise is special. It was directly witnessed by the astronauts, in addition to being captured by the camera. It elegantly illustrates how human perception is something that is constantly evolving, often hand in hand with technology.

Earth land has shown us that Earth is a connected system, and any changes made in that system potentially affect the entire planet. Although the Apollo missions sought to reveal the Moon, they also revealed powerfully the boundaries of our own planet. The idea of ​​a spacecraft Earth, with its interdependent ecologies and finite resources, has become an icon of a growing environmental movement concerned about the ecological impacts of industrialization and population growth.

Viewed in a different and magnified angle, & # 39; Earthrise & # 39; reveals the western half of Africa along the terminator, swirls of clouds over the north and south of the Atlantic Ocean and South America near the limb of the planet. Credit: NASA

Despite the initial impact of seeing this remote view of our home, 50 years later, it seems that our planet – or at least the relatively comfortable existence that human civilization has conquered – is still at great risk.

Pollution, environmental degradation and climate change are having a profound impact on our world, and even with the rise of activism and with most of the world leaders coming together to pledge action, the authors Conversation Ask a very important question …

What will be the moment of this generation's Earthrise?

Speak to the astronauts who have traveled into space, from the original missions to the present day, and there is overwhelming consensus: getting into space changes your perception of the world – literally, but also fundamentally.

Seeing much of the Earth at once gives them a view where borders almost disappear, and the dangerous and accelerating changes we are making in our environment become very apparent. It is a perspective that is unlike anything that we, on the surface – with our limited local vision, can experience.

We are not totally without access to your point of view, however.

On any given day (when there is no shutdown of the United States government), we can watch live videos from our planet directly from the International Space Station.

There are also daily images sent to us by the NASA Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), aboard the DSCOVR satellite, 1.5 million kilometers away, between the Sun and Earth. About four times as far away as Apollo 8 was from Earth, when Anders drew the image of Earthrise, the view is spectacular.

This EPIC image, roughly corresponding to Earth's orientation during the iconic photo Earthrise, was captured at 11:43 UTC on Saturday, December 22, 2018. Credit: NASA

The purpose of the EPIC is to provide multiple images of the Earth per day to allow us to see how the world is changing over time.

Although only a small number of us actually manage to get into space, to get the same perspective as the astronauts who were there, seeing these visions of our world every day could help.

Sources: NASA | The conversation


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