Here’s how Earth looks from space, 70 years ago and now

SHAFAQNA- By: Scott Sutherland

Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 5:44 PM – The very first image taken from space was snapped 70 years ago, and look how far we’ve come since, plus 10 years of NASA’s STEREO mission revolutionizes our view of the Sun. It’s What’s Up in Space!

70 years of Earth from space

On October 24, 1946, the United States Army launched a V-2 rocket from White Sands, New Mexico, which snapped the very first picture of Earth from space.

Taken with a standard 35-mm movie camera that was attached to the rocket, this is the first image the team was rewarded with, once the rocket crashed back to Earth.

First ever image of Earth from space, October 24, 1946. Credit: U.S. Army – White Sands Missile Range/Applied Physics Laboratory

This grainy, blurry picture was taken at an altitude of 105 kilometres, just beyond the Karman line, which is the official border between Earth and space. The limited field of view shows off the curvature of the Earth, plus provides a look at the clouds from above, and the shadows they’re casting on the ground underneath. A very striking image, for the time.

Oh, how far we’ve come in the 70 years since.

Gemini XI, 1966. Credit: NASA

Skylab, 1974. Credit: NASA

STS-9 Discovery, 1983. Credit: NASA

Mir from Discovery, 1995. Credit: NASA

Earth from the International Space Station, Sept 4, 2014. Credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman

Earth from NASA’s EPIC camera, on NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), Oct 19, 2016. Credit: NASA

A decade of STEREO views of the Sun

Ten years ago, on October 25, 2006, NASA launched their twin STEREO spacecraft into orbit around the Sun.

With one, STEREO-A thrusting ahead of Earth and the other STEREO-B lagging behind, these two satellites were destined to give us views from the other side of our parent star, to give us an even greater understanding of what’s going on there, and to give us even more advanced warning of dangerous space weather that may affect Earth and the technologies we depend upon.

According to NASA

The prime STEREO mission was designed for two years of operations, observing the sun and the space environment around it, by which point the spacecraft would have traveled about 45 degrees (one-eighth of a circle each) away from Earth. This mission design was revolutionary, since our observations of the sun and conditions in space had previously been confined to views only from Earth’s perspective. By providing us with different views of the sun simultaneously, STEREO helped scientists watch solar eruptions develop over time, and gave them multiple perspectives of how those eruptions propagate outward. The greater the separation of the two spacecraft from each other and from Earth, the more we learned about the sun and its influence on space – including multi-point views of one of the most powerful solar storms on record.

While STEREO-B suffered an anomaly in October 2014, taking it offline and unreachable until August of 2016, STEREO-A has continued to collect data throughout the entire mission timeline. The NASA team has been in intermittent contact with STEREO-B over the past two months, and continues to attempt to recover the spacecraft so that the full mission can continue.


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