Thursday , July 7 2022

BBC – Future: the iconic photo that summarized our place in the Universe


2,383: Earthrise image number

Christmas Nights 1968, the crew of Apollo 8, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, were about to see the first side of the Moon.

"We unleashed the four-dimensional spacecraft engine to reduce the speed enough to enter the lunar orbit," says Borman. "We are half way when we looked down and there was the Moon."

"The lunar surface was terribly disturbed by meteorites, holes, craters, volcanic waste," he says. "But one of the things that called me most was that there was absolutely no color, it was gray or black or white."

"It was a very interesting first sight about a different world".

But the most captivating sight arose when they turned to the fourth orbit and Anders saw the Earth in the window of the command module.

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"Oh, my God, look at the image that is here! There is the Earth rising. Wow, it's that beautiful!" He exclaimed. "Do you have a color film, Jim? Give me a color roll, quickly?

These cartridges that contain 70 mm film rollers could easily be exchanged for Hasselblad cameras of the crew.

"Take some, there are some," said Lovell. "Here, give me!"

"Wait a minute, just let me have the right settings here now," responded Anders, "you just have to reassure yourself …"

Once the film was developed on Earth several weeks later, the image of NASA 2383 (and the frames on each side) would become one of the most famous images of all time.

The image, which shows the Earth in the context of the sterile moon, was one of the unexpected achievements of the Apollo program.

The Earth was the only thing in the whole universe that had color: a beautiful view, we are very fortunate to live on this planet: Frank Borman

"I think it is probably one of the most significant images that humans have never taken," he agreed with Borman. "The Earth was the only thing in the whole universe that had color, a beautiful view, we are very fortunate to live on this planet."

(You can listen to more about Mission Apollo 8 on this radio show)

75: Minutes of the emission of the TV station of the space (Apollo 7)

In the course of Apollo missions, there was a great resistance among many NASA engineers and astronauts to the idea of ​​carrying television cameras for live streaming from space. It was frivolous and would interfere with the mission, they argued.

Chris Kraft, the head of mission control, thought the opposite and insisted that television was a way of showing American taxpayers how their money was spent.

We floated and only showed the terrain of what we could do: photography was not good – Walt Cunningham

The first astronauts who carried an orbiting television camera were the crew of Apollo 7 – Wally Schirra, Don Eisele and Walt Cunningham. After a trembling start, they soon managed to add a small showbiz to the space program.

"We called it Wally, Walt and Don," says Cunningham. "We had a friend who gave us some small letters that we could keep in front of the television and, apart from that, we went out and taught what we could do: it was not a good photograph."

Despite their shortcomings, these first television broadcasts from the space, a total of seven, were enthusiastically monitored. They gave the missions an immediacy that was not possible with cinema or photography.

"I remember that at seven I was fascinated with the television on board, "says Apollo director, Gerry Griffin." But I did not take much time to realize that we have to work on it, because it can not be done. point out [the camera] to things and I do not have much to say. "

When the crew of Apollo 7 returned to Earth, they were awarded an Emmy Prize from the National Academy of Arts and Sciences of Television for their efforts.

Later missions would push the limits of television technology, with cameras, transmitters and improved content. Apollo 8 was broadcast live from the lunar orbit for the first time and, during Apollo 10, the crew produced the first color television programs on the Moon.

64: Diameter of the Parkes radio telescope, in meters

The diffusion of the relatively luminous and controlled conditions of the Apollo ship was very different from the transmission of the first images of the surface of another world. But NASA realized that it was essential to spread the first steps of humanity to the Moon.

The video camera built for the lunar surface was based on military technology developed to shoot at night in the forests of Vietnam. It was mounted in a compartment next to the lunar landing that was done by surface experiments. Armstrong opened the door of the compartment when he got out of the hatchway and began to lower the stairs. Later, the astronaut removed the camera and placed it on a tripod.

It is possible that the astronauts were in the sea of ​​tranquility on the Moon, but here was the ocean of storms – John Sarkissian

NASA did not take risks to make sure live video came to Earth and arranged the reception of the 64-meter broadband broadcasts in Goldstone, California and Parkes in New Wales, South, Australia.

Parkes engineers spent months working with NASA to prepare the giant radio telescope to receive the first television images on the lunar surface. On July 21, 1969, everything was ready for the big event, but the weather suddenly changed.

"A few minutes before the Moonwalk began, a violent rifle arrived at the telescope with winds that surpassed the safe operating speeds," says Parkes's operations scientist, John Sarkissian. "But John Bolton, the legendary first director of the observatory, kept his nerves, told his men to stay in it, and in the same way that they lit the television camera, the Moon moved to the field of vision and we received the images. "

"It is possible that the astronauts were in the sea of ​​tranquility on the Moon," says Sarkissian, "but here was the ocean of storms."

One of the disappointments was that the first television coverage of the Moon had no color. This had to take place during Apollo 12. Unfortunately, when astronaut Alan Bean was installing the camera on the lunar surface, he accidentally pointed to the Sun and fed the electronic.

During the later Apollo missions, a lunar rover television camera was fixed to give viewers a vision of the Moon. The camera was controlled remotely from the Earth, which also allowed operators to capture one of the funniest features in the history of television. As Apollo 17 is triggered by the Moon, the camera leans to follow its path (You can watch the video here.)

Read more about Parkes here

600 million: estimated global audience of television (Apollo 11)

About 600 million people saw how Neil Armstrong gave his first small step to the lunar surface. At this time, it was the largest television audience in the world.

But at the time of Apollo 13, just nine months later, the world had already lost interest. As Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise traveled to the Moon, none of the national television networks of the United States carried out their broadcast.

"It was the third time that we were going to land on the Moon and the media did not care," says Sy Liebergot, responsible for all critical support systems for the life of the Apollo 13.

Apollo was once again a global news event, with millions after the dramatic mission rescue, an early example of the news coverage

"They imagined we had landed twice and they decided on their own that the public was no longer interested in going and landing on the Moon."

"There was nothing normal to go to the Moon, land and go up and go home," says Liebergot. "But I did not care".

A few minutes after the transmission of Apollo 13 ended, television channels changed their minds. Fifty-five hours and 46 minutes of flight, the mission controllers asked the crew to remove the oxygen and hydrogen in the tanks that supply the fuel cells to the spacecraft. The routine procedure ensured that the liquid of the boats was mixed adequately and the indicators gave precise readings.

"Houston had a problem," Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell reported.

With the spoiled side of the spacecraft and the crew in danger of death, Apollo once again became a global news event, with millions after the dramatic mission rescue, an early example of news coverage.

28,000: Distance from the image of extracted blue marble, kilometers

During the five-year Apollo program, the coverage of television went from serious and improvised black and white cinema to choreographic panoramas of the lunar landscape. But, compared to today's high definition television, much of it seems grenade and date.

The most lasting image of Apollo comes from the movie: today it looks as cool as when it was filmed. The archive includes spectacular 70 mm panoramic screen images of Saturn V to the launch pad and documentary downloads of 16 mm mission control. Even movie cameras were mounted on rockets and expelled to land on pots.

The image of Earthrise captured by Bill Anders during Apollo 8 was a lucky accident. But another image of the Earth was planned with meticulous details

Some of the best images of this movie are used with an impressive effect on the recently published Apollo 11 movie.

In the same way, still images taken by Apollo astronauts remain clear, inspiring and relevant today. And they emphasize two images of the Earth.

The image of Earthrise captured by Bill Anders during Apollo 8 was a lucky accident. But another image of the Earth was planned with meticulous details.

As the crew of Apollo 17 went to the Moon for the last time in 1972, he ordered to take a picture looking to the Earth. The image, known as the "Blue Marble", provides a unique perspective of the entire Earth hanging from the darkness of space. It not only shows the South Pole, but places Africa, not the United States, in the center.

Even when we return to the Moon, these first images, especially those on Earth, will have a special place in the history of humanity.

In the words of Commander Apollo 8, Frank Borman: "I do not think any of us would have paid attention to the fact that we would go to the Moon and we would be more interested in looking at the Earth."

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