The Great Images in NASA library (GRIN) is an extensive collection of photos from the NASA archives, including ones from the early days of NACA. While perusing the galleries, I found a section of ‘Earth Science’ related photographs that contains some notable first pictures that I wanted to share today. And although I have always heard that one should save the best for last, today we are going to strike that–reverse it, and start with my favorite. This photo was taken on September 18, 1977, by Voyager 1 when it was 7.25 million miles from Earth.
Next up is the first photo taken by the Explorer VI Earth satellite, launched August 7, 1959. It is a somewhat crude photo, being from so early on in the space program, and NASA was kind enough to include an explanatory illustration as shown below. The lined areas at the left of the globe illustrate the cloud cover at the time of the photo that reflected sunlight to the satellite.
Then we have a photo map of the contiguous 48 states of the United States. This is the first ever assembled from satellite images, and the actual completed map is 10 by 16 feet, and composed of 595 black-and-white images. These were taken, all from the same altitude and with the same lighting angle, by the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS-1).
Last up, but not least, is an image of the whole Earth taken during the Apollo 17 mission, and it just so happens to be the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the South polar ice cap.
For more information on each of the images, you can take a look at the Earth Science section of the GRIN. All images courtesy of NASA.