Some estimate that no image has been reproduced as often as “the Blue Marble.”
Captured in December 1972 by the astronauts of Apollo 17, it showed a home world without national borders, floating in the darkness of space.
It's a famous image—and one that has rarely been updated. Apollo 17 was the last time that humans were far enough from Earth to get an entire hemisphere in the frame. More recent versions of the photo have showcased robotic missions or stitched together from composites. (The version of “Blue Marble” used as the first iPhone background was created in 2002 from a composite of satellite images.)
Early yesterday morning, a robotic, experimental Chinese engineering probe—the Chang'e 5-TI—rounded the moon’s dark side and snapped a photo of both it and the home world. The resulting photograph’s above. In it, you’ll see a new, Blue Marble-like image, and it captivates. That’s the Earth yesterday. But looking at this photo, too, you’ll see the moon’s distant half. Until 1959, when an unmanned Soviet craft photographed it for the first time, no one had seen that either.
The far side of the moon and the Earth entire: Until 55 years ago, no one had seen either of these sights before.
via Emily Lakdawalla
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