3 Amazing NASA Photos of Earth

The Black Marble

April 22, 2019

Due to US copyright laws, NASA photographs actually belong in the public domain. Who knew? I figured I’d take advantage of that to discuss some of the most amazing photos NASA has ever taken of our planet. A quick note about the series of bolded numbers and letters following the title of each photo in this post: that is the official NASA designation for that image.


The Blue Marble (AS17-148-22727)

1. The Blue Marble (AS17-148-22727)

This is easily the most famous photo NASA has ever taken, and it’s probably the most widely reproduced and distributed. It was taken December 7, 1972 by someone on the Apollo 17 flight, although evidence suggests that Jack Schmitt was the photographer. Interestingly enough, it was an unscheduled & unplanned photo, which makes the image something of a ‘stolen moment’. If you think The Blue Marble is beautiful, you might be interested in the subsequent Blue Marble images. (Source: Wikipedia, "The Blue Marble)


Earthrise (AS08-14-2383)

2. Earthrise (AS08-14-2383)

This spectacular image has been described as, "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken." It was taken December 24, 1968 by William Anders on the Apollo 8 mission. Like The Blue Marble, Earthrise was actually unplanned according to a transcript from the conversation that occurred when the photo was taken:

"Anders: Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There's the Earth coming up. Wow, that's pretty.
Borman: Hey, don't take that, it's not scheduled. (joking)
Anders: (laughs) You got a color film, Jim? Hand me that roll of color quick, would you...
Lovell: Oh man, that's great!" (Source: Wikipedia, "Earthrise")


Pale Blue Dot

 3. Pale Blue Dot

What makes Pale Blue Dot special is the almost barely perceivable Earth sitting in the middle of a sun beam. Earth is so small that it takes up less than a pixel in the entire image. Talk about putting things in perspective. It was taken February 14, 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe at the request of astronomer Carl Sagan. (Source: Wikipedia, "Pale Blue Dot")