NASA Now Has an Instagram Account

Cat. Latte. Lunch. Space.
Apollo 11’s camera can be seen in the reflection on Buzz Aldrin’s visor (NASA)

Updated, September 11, 1pm.

NASA has an Instagram account.

Oh, yes: Now, between pictures of cats, lunches, friends, and your friend’s cat’s lunch, you can view space photography. Today the account has declared a moon theme, and, accordingly, it has posted:

In fact, it’s the famous Earthrise shot, taken by Apollo 8 in December 1986*:

(An explanation for this lunar lunacy? A rocket carrying an unmanned lunar orbiter is blasting off tonight.

NASA’s Instagram isn’t the agency’s first foray into Internet photography. The agency has no fewer than three Flickr accounts, devoted to current news, historic or public images, and the Goddard Space Flight Center**. And even before the millennium, the agency was posting space images online. The Astronomy Picture of the Day has been furnishing new images since 1995.

In both of these projects, the agency’s workers seem concerned with getting images of space, in all its massiveness and magnificence, in front of people. An image of the Earth, peeking above the alien horizon of the moon, is extraordinary in any context, but seems especially so amid the very ordinary stuff of Instagram. All these lemon tarts, finger nails, and airplane wings are all there — they’re all on that orb — as are all the friends who found those things meaningful.

The California Coastal National Monument, from Instagram (Department of the Interior)

NASA isn’t the only U.S. government entity with an account on the Facebook-owned photo service. The Department of the Interior also has a gorgeous one, showcasing photography from the Sierra Nevadas, Great LakesCalifornia coastland, and elsewhere.

* The original version of this article said Earthrise was taken by Apollo 11 in June 1969. In fact, it was taken seven months earlier, by Apollo 8.

** In fact, the Goddard Space Flight Center already has its own Instagram account

Presented by

Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Technology

Just In