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News – Earthrise, photo that changed how we see the world, becomes 50

OUT OF THIS WORLD | What's in the room – the biggest news comes down to the ground from space

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist / Science Writer

Monday, December 24, 2018, 3:57 PM – Fifty years ago, Apollo astronaut William Anders captured one of the most iconic images of our home and revealed how fragile it is in the depths of space. How does this picture still affect us today?

On December 24, 1968, NASA astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders became the three people who have traveled furthest away from our home – a record that still stands today. On board the Apollo 8 spacecraft, the trio was part of the first crew mission to the moon and back, and while they would not land on the surface during this journey (or any future), they were given one of the most beautiful images of Earth to date.

It was at the beginning of their third circuit around the moon, taking pictures of the surface properties that pass beneath them, that they saw the earth rise above the horizon of the moon. Scrambling for a roll of color film, to capture this amazing view, Anders snapped it now famous & # 39; Earthrise & # 39; picture.

& # 39; Earthrise & # 39; as captured by astronaut William Anders, Apollo 8, December 24, 1968. Credit: NASA

See below: See & # 39; Earth & # 39; from LUNAR RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER

The video above, produced by NASA's Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio, is an accurate representation of what Borman, Lovell, and Anders would have seen outside their spacecraft as the Earth's rise rotated.

It is this rotation that is most important, in fact – more important than it is at first apparent. On the two previous circuits around the moon, the trio did not see the earth in their view. The spacecraft's orientation angled their outlook so that they could only see the Moon's surface passing underneath. If they had not initiated this rolling maneuver, they would have missed it again, but the roller turned the ship perfectly so that it led the horizon and the rising ground into their point of view.

According to NASA, this image is considered to have triggered the modern environmental movement.

From The conversation:

Although Earthrise is not the first image of the Earth from our Moon, Earthrise is special. It was directly witnessed by the astronauts as well as being caught by the camera. It illustrates elegantly how human perception is something that constantly evolves, often hand in hand with technology.

Earthrise showed us that Earth is a connected system and any changes in this system potentially affect the entire planet. Although the Apollo missions attempted to reveal the moon, they also revealed the boundaries of our own planet. The idea of ​​a spaceship Earth with its interdependent ecology and limited resources became an icon of a growing environmental movement that related to the ecological impact of industrialization and population growth.

Viewed at a different angle and zooming in, "Earthrise" reveals the western half of Africa along the terminator, swirls of cloud across the north and south Atlantic and South America near the planet's limbs. Credit: NASA

Despite the initial impact of seeing this remote view of our home, 50 years later, our planet – or at least the relatively comfortable existence of human civilization – seems to be in great danger.

Pollution, environmental degradation and climate change have a profound impact on our world, and even with the upswing in activism, and with most of the world's leaders coming together to promise action, the authors of it Conversation piece ask a very important question …

What is this generation's Earthrise moment?

Talk to astronauts who have traveled to space, from the original missions right up to the present day, and there is an overwhelming consensus: Entering space changes your perception of the world – literally, but also fundamentally.

When we see so much of the Earth, at the same time, they give them a view where the boundaries go beyond anything, and the dangerous and accelerating changes we make in our environment become all too clear. It is a perspective that is different from what we can experience on the surface – with our limited local point of view.

However, we are not completely without access to their vantage point.

On any day (when there is no shutdown of the US government), we can see live video of our planet, directly from the International Space Station.

There are also daily shots sent to us by NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), aboard the DSCOVR satellite, 1.5 million miles away, between the Sun and Earth. Nearly four times farther than Apollo 8 was off the ground when Anders snapped the Earthrise picture, the view is spectacular.

This EPIC image, broadly similar to the Earth's orientation under the iconic & # 39; Earthrise & # 39; image, was captured at. 11:43 UTC Saturday, December 22, 2018. Credit: NASA

The purpose of EPIC is to give more images of the Earth a day so that we can see how the world changes over time.

Although only a small number of us will actually make it into space, to get the same perspective as the astronauts who have been there when we could see these views of our world every day.

Sources: NASA | The conversation


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