Today in science history...


Apr 27, 2010
On August 23, 1966, the Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first photo of the Earth from the Moon. It was grainy and contrasty, but it was our first look at our planet from another celestial body. It also nearly didn't happen.

The Lunar Orbiter's job was to take photos of the lunar surface, to help NASA determine the best landing sites for the coming moon missions. However, Boeing engineers building the orbiter realized the opportunity for a chance to take a photo of Earth from the moon. Project staff thought it was a great idea. Boeing project management didn't agree. They thought there was too much risk involved in programming the maneuver, which required the orbiter to spin around to face the Earth. They were also concerned about losing control of the craft.

Luckily, top officials at both the fledgling NASA and the Langley Research Center which was running the project, saw the public relations windfall such a photo could be. So, on August 23, the spin maneuver was executed and we got our first look at our planet from somewhere else.

Lunar Operations Project Office team showing off the "picture of the century"