August 23

First view of the earth from near the moon, taken by Lunar Orbiter 1. Image Credit: NASA. Image Credit: NASA.

Image of the Day

The First View of Earth from the Vicinity of the Moon

Lunar Orbiter 1 took this shot of the Earth on this day in 1966. It was the first image of the Earth captured from the vicinity of the Moon, around which the unmanned satellite was orbiting.

The mission of the first three Lunar Orbiter satellites was to photograph, and thus map, smooth surfaces of the Moon in anticipation of finding landing spots for the Surveyor and Apollo missions, while the final two were asked to finish photographing the Moon's surface. Nearly 99% of the Moon's surface was mapped from photographs taken by these five satellites between August 1966 and August 1967. The photographs have been compiled into an atlas.

In the last decade, NASA has funded the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) to reprocess the grainy images collected by the Lunar Orbiter missions. The reprocessed version of this image can be found here.

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