47 years ago on August 23 NASA’s unmanned Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first images of the Earth from the Moon, seeing it in it’s full glory. NASA says of the image:
The photo was transmitted to Earth by the United States Lunar Orbiter I and received at the NASA tracking station at Robledo De Chavela near Madrid, Spain. This crescent of the Earth was photographed August 23, 1966 at 16:35 GMT when the spacecraft was on its 16th orbit and just about to pass behind the Moon.
Here’s that first, iconic image:
The images were originally used to pick out potential landing sites for the manned Apollo missions, then largely forgotten about for 20 years.
They only reason they weren’t scrapped was the decision of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s archivist Nancy Evans, who told the LA Times “I could not morally get rid of this stuff.”
NASA is actually working to recover higher-quality versions of these images, and the results are just stunning:
The originals were actually never released to the public. The grainy image above was actually a picture of the original, which made them so low-quality, according to the LA Times.
The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project is using “refurbished machinery and modern digital technology” to reproduce the original data image at a much higher resolution than was possible when it was originally taken. Here’s the direct comparison:
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