Animation of the Apollo 17 full Earth photo. This animation starts tight on Saudi Arabia and slowly drifts back to reveal the rest of the globe.
The Apollo 17 spacecraft was launched from the Kennedy Space Center at midnight on December 7th, 1972. Just hours after lift-off, the command module aligned with the Earth and Sun, allowing the crew to photograph Earth in full light. The photo was taken at about 18,000 statute miles away from the Earth. Virtually every picture showing the full Earth is derived from this one photograph. Television, newspapers, websites, and marketing material have all used this photograph over the years. Geostationary weather satellites, Galileo, and many other spacecraft have returned great pictures of the full Earth from space, but this image is still the number one requested photo in the NASA photo archives.