Thirty eight years ago today, at 5:39 EST on December 7th 1972, astronauts aboard the Apollo 17 mission would take the famous “Blue Marble” (NASA AS17-148-22727) picture of the earth. Because they were headed towards the sun the entire earth was illuminated at once.
They had blasted off from the earth 5 hours and thirty-six minutes earlier, and had left their parking orbit around the planet they photographed one hour and fifty-four minutes before the picture was taken.
In 2005 NASA would release a composite series of satellite pictures of the earth. These provided much greater detail than the single 70-millimetre Hasselblad camera with an 80-millimetre lens did in 1972. They called the new set “Blue Marble: The Next Generation”.
Apollo 17 was the last manned spaceflight that traveled beyond earth’s orbit. On December 19th 1972 the astronauts of Apollo 17 would set foot on the earth after being the last humans (so far) to venture to the moon.