Fifty years after the iconic images sent back to Earth by the Apollo 17 astronauts captured the awe of the universe and the fragility of our planet like never before, the time-lapse images have been released to mark the anniversary.
The Blue Marble, as it is known, was photographed on December 7, 1972 and exhibited a level of detail never before seen at the time.
In full sunlight, with dark clouds hovering over the African continent and surrounded by the vivid blue of Earth’s oceans, the planet stands out like a beacon in the deep darkness of space.
The Living Earth Orchestra (LEO), in partnership with Planetary Visions of the Apollo 17 mission and NASA, has released a unique time-lapse imagery showing the changing Earth.
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Since 2015, NASA has been operating a deep-space observatory equipped with the EPIC camera.
It’s a million miles from Earth, snapping blue marble-style images every two hours.
But today, NASA commissioned EPIC to take images every 13 minutes for three hours, creating a nearly real-time view of Earth.
The results can be seen in the video below.
LEO has been developing technology to broadcast such images of Earth anytime, anywhere, and plans to build a constellation of satellites to show Earth day and night.
Lead scientist Dr Jan-Peter Muller, Emeritus Professor of Image Understanding and Remote Sensing at UCL, said the images would inspire a new generation to care about the future of the planet, just as Blue Marble did.
“We’ve revealed the wonder and destruction of Earth’s ecosystems. It’s a compelling wake-up call when you see what’s happening,” he said.
“We believe this is an important new tool for all concerned and responsible.”
The goal of LEO was to “make the state of the planet visible on a global and local scale”, but Dr Muller said “it took many years to bring together the necessary technology”.
It is hoped that these images will show not only how the Earth has changed since 1972, but also how it will change in the years to come.