How the Iconic 1968 “Earthrise” Photo Was Made: An Engrossing Visualization by NASA

Let’s let NASA paint the pic­ture for you:

In Decem­ber of 1968, the crew of Apol­lo 8 became the first peo­ple to leave our home plan­et and trav­el to anoth­er body in space. But as crew mem­bers Frank Bor­man, James Lovell, and William Anders all lat­er recalled, the most impor­tant thing they dis­cov­ered was Earth.

Using pho­to mosaics and ele­va­tion data from Lunar Recon­nais­sance Orbiter (LRO), this video com­mem­o­rates the 45th anniver­sary of Apol­lo 8’s his­toric flight by recre­at­ing the moment when the crew first saw and pho­tographed the Earth ris­ing from behind the Moon. [See the orig­i­nal pho­to here.] Nar­ra­tor Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon, sets the scene for a three-minute visu­al­iza­tion of the view from both inside and out­side the space­craft accom­pa­nied by the onboard audio of the astro­nauts. The visu­al­iza­tion draws on numer­ous his­tor­i­cal sources, includ­ing the actu­al cloud pat­tern on Earth from the ESSA‑7 satel­lite and dozens of pho­tographs tak­en by Apol­lo 8, and it reveals new, his­tor­i­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant infor­ma­tion about the Earth­rise pho­tographs. It has not been wide­ly known, for exam­ple, that the space­craft was rolling when the pho­tos were tak­en, and that it was this roll that brought the Earth into view.

The visu­al­iza­tion estab­lish­es the pre­cise tim­ing of the roll and, for the first time ever, iden­ti­fies which win­dow each pho­to­graph was tak­en from. The key to the new work is a set of ver­ti­cal stereo pho­tographs tak­en by a cam­era mount­ed in the Com­mand Mod­ule’s ren­dezvous win­dow and point­ing straight down onto the lunar sur­face. It auto­mat­i­cal­ly pho­tographed the sur­face every 20 sec­onds. By reg­is­ter­ing each pho­to­graph to a mod­el of the ter­rain based on LRO data, the ori­en­ta­tion of the space­craft can be pre­cise­ly deter­mined.

This video above is pub­lic domain and can be down­loaded here. In 1972, astro­nauts took anoth­er famous pic­ture of the Earth, known as The Big Blue Mar­ble. You can watch a film (“Overview”) that com­mem­o­rates that pho­to­graph and explores the whole con­cept of see­ing the Earth from afar. And, of course, you should always see the Carl Sagan-nar­rat­ed film, The Pale Blue Dot, too.

via Metafil­ter/Brain­Pick­ings

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Won­der, Thrill & Mean­ing of See­ing Earth from Space. Astro­nauts Reflect on The Big Blue Mar­ble

Astro­naut Takes Amaz­ing Self Por­trait in Space

Astro­naut Chris Had­field Sings David Bowie’s “Space Odd­i­ty” On Board the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion

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