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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trivia Contest - The Blue Marble

Our email newsletter trivia question today is:

On what mission was the famous "blue marble" photo of Earth taken?

Answer: Apollo 17

Congratulations to: Kent Wolfe who had the first correct answer

The crew of Apollo 17 took the photo on December 7, 1972 at 4:39 a.m. CST, a few hours after launch. The astronauts thought Earth looked like a glass marble, which led to the name.

The Blue Marble is probably the most widely distributed image in human history. It was the first clear image of an illuminated face of Earth.

The photograph's official NASA designation is AS17-148-22727. It is credited to the entire Apollo 17 crew of Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Jack Schmitt. They all took photos with the on-board Hasselblad. Jack Schmitt probably took the famous image, but that cannot be verified. It was taken with the south at the top of the photo, but was rotated before being released.

This was the last time any human has been at a range where taking a whole-Earth photograph such as The Blue Marble would be possible.

The original caption read:
"View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. This translunar coast photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to the Antarctica south polar ice cap. This is the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap. Note the heavy cloud cover in the Southern Hemisphere. Almost the entire coastline of Africa is clearly visible. The Arabian Peninsula can be seen at the northeastern edge of Africa. The large island off the coast of Africa is Madagascar. The Asian mainland is on the horizon toward the northeast."

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