26 Jul 2010

Earth emerges over lunar horizon

Posted by jofr

It is always amazing to see the earth from space. To see sunset and sunrise from a space station is spectacular. It is even more spectacular to watch earthrise from a larger distance. Last year was the 40th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing. The crew members of Apollo 8 were the first humans to witness the Earth rising over the Moon’s horizon. Later Apollo missions also witnessed this fascinating event. The Astronauts from Apollo 11, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins (the first men who landed on the moon), brought back this nice sequence of pictures showing how the earth emerges and rises over the lunar horizon:

Back these days there were no digital cameras. They used analog cameras and brought back the film manually. Today we have all kind of digital devices and cameras. The best cameras are built by the Japanese. Therefore it is not surprising that the first lunar orbiter that has captured how planet earth appears over the lunar horizon in HD is from..

..JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) 😉

Yet it seems that we have made little progress over the last four decades. Yes, our computers and cameras have become much better, and we have color TV in HD, McDonald’s and billions of mobile phones, but we have also exploited nearly all easily accessible oil resources and polluted the last corner of our precious planet. The global population and the amount of waste (atomic or otherwise) is much too high. Look how small and fragile our small blue planet looks from a distance. It is all we got. There is nowhere else to go. Space is a vast, empty, lonely, and desolate place. If we could see the world from that distance, as those astronauts did, would we behave more responsible? Would be stop fighting each other, stop burning the rain forests, stop wasting energy and stop exploiting natural resources?

Probably not. Although Buzz Aldrin saw all the “magnificent desolation” of earth in space with his own eyes, he got problems with depression and alcohol after his moon flight. “Magnificent desolation” were the words used by Aldrin on the moon to describe the situation. Armstrong said: “Isn’t that something! Magnificent sight out here.” and Aldrin responded “magnificent desolation”. On the moon and other planets of our solar systems there is only magnificent desolation. Here on earth we have magnificent complexity. If the astronauts don’t recognize how precious our planet is, will we ever do? This is somewhat depressing. Probably nothing will fundamentally change until a really large catastrophe happens.

(all pictures are from NASA and can be found at the Project Apollo Archive)

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