Composite Earth Photo
On December 7, 1972, some five hours after the Apollo 17 spacecraft blasted off to the moon, her crew snapped a shot of the Earth that would become one of the most published, and most beloved, photographs in history. They called it the Blue Marble. This worthy successor to that iconic image – created using satellite-based observations – shows the planet in even more breathtaking detail. Images gathered over several months provided clear views of every square mile, while clouds shot in both visible light and infrared show gauzy layers of swirling atmosphere. And global city lights, superimposed on the darkened continents, reveal something that was missing from Apollo's sun-drenched image: us, down below, looking up in wonder.