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It's been 50 years since Earth was first photographed from the moon

On this Day in History: On August 23, 1966, NASA's Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first photograph of Earth from the moon's distance.


Earthrise, that iconic image taken by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders in 1968, has since become one of the most famous and well-known images of our home planet, with the stark alien landscape of the moon in the foreground. But before humans peered back at the Earth from our satellite, NASA's Lunar Orbiter 1 captured just as spectacular an image.

Lunar Orbiter 1 was sent to scope out the moon in 1966 in preparation for the Apollo 11 moon landing. It was launched on August 10, and proceeded to reconnoitre the surface, looking for potential landing sites, taking high-resolution and medium-resolution photographs and transmitting them back home to Earth, covering over 5 million square kilometres of the moon's surface.

The photograph above, the first photograph of Earth from the moon, was taken on August 23, 1966 at 4:35 p.m. GMT as the probe was completing its 16th orbit around the moon. The image was received by the NASA station at Robledo De Chavela near Madrid, Spain.