Released on January 23, 2003
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. For the first time in an Apollo mission, the Antarctic continent was visible allowing for a photo to be taken by the orbiting astronauts. The photo was taken at about 18,000 statute miles away from 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.