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“Earthrise” From the Moon: New Video Retraces Apollo 8 View

Earthrise in black and white, the first picture of Earth taken by a human in orbit around the moon, is presented with the horizon oriented vertically because that is how the astronauts described seeing it. Credit: NASA

In honor of Earth Day 2012, NASA has issued a visualization that draws upon richly detailed maps of the Moon’s surface made from data gathered by the space agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

The result: You too can share the view seen firsthand back on December 24, 1968 – the out-the-window look see by the Apollo 8 crew: Frank Borman, William Anders and James Lovell, Jr.

“This visualization recreates for everyone the wondrous experience of seeing Earth from that privileged viewpoint,” says LRO Project Scientist Rich Vondrak of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

To recreate this scene, NASA animator Ernie Wright reconstructed Apollo 8’s orbit in software, using coordinates from an Apollo 8 mission report and photographs taken by the crew.

Wright rendered the crisp contours of the moonscape using high-resolution topography data from LRO’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, which has provided the most precise and complete maps to date of the moon’s complex, heavily cratered terrain.

The Earth shown in the visualization is not an exact duplication of what the astronauts saw but a mosaic of more recent images taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (known as MODIS) instrument on the Terra satellite and assembled by NASA’s Visible Earth team.

Give a listen and take in the view at:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/apollo8-retrace.html

By Leonard David

 

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