About two billion years ago, the first photosynthetic algae developed the ability to respond to light – the bright sun by day, the spectral moon by night: Around 700 million years ago, primitive eye pits appeared, and during In the Cambrian era arthropod-like creatures saw through true eyes into the sky and felt the moon uprising with their arthropodenähnlichen understanding. So it continued in the following stages of life with mammals, primates, hominins and Homo sapiens the last of them clad the movements of the moon and represented the pockmarked terrain of the companion of the earth.
Then, 50 years ago, the perspective has turned. Apollo 8 launched after an eight-pattern around the moon, and on 24 December 1968, NASA's three astronauts saw the first Earthrise in the history of life. Most of the memories that are now appearing in the media focus on the Earth itself, which is great and great from afar. But the true power of the picture comes from juxtaposing two views never seen before: our blue planet, shrouded in air, water and hope, contrasts with the extraordinary gray devastation of the moon.
To fully feel this power, you need to consider Earthrise not as a still image but as an event, an experience immersed in time and place. I recently had the opportunity to do so at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Carter Emmart, director of the museum's visualization, has assembled an Apollo 8 tribute that links the original astronaut images with documentary films about the United States of 1968 and, more importantly, detailed simulations of the Apollo 8 trajectory around the moon. In the simulation, you can watch the passing lunar landscape, synchronized with the astronaut's conversations with the mission control, to regain the vastness of the moment when the earth appeared behind the dusty edge of the moon.
Most People Will not Do This The chance to visit the museum, however, can restore much of the event, using resources that are available online. Some of them were created with the help of Emmart. He provided a helpful list of these resources at the end of this post. But first I wanted to share some of his thoughts on reliving Apollo 8 along with the memorable words of the Apollo 8 astronauts themselves.
It seems to be bittersweet, if I remember such a big moment we have not yet returned to the moon since Apollo 17. Do you feel that way too?
Emmart: People say, "We would have been on Mars in the mid-'80s if we had kept the direction." The truth is, the goal of going to the moon was attacked by politicians as soon as it was announced. But these are really little things. Apollo 8 is a monument and does not go away. You can visit the Smithsonian and see the pieces of Apollo, but the actual monument is in the sky. It reminds us that this world is a bridge to the universe. The earth is just another sphere, we are in the moon sky, just like the moon is with us.
The future is slower than we had hoped, but our visualization capabilities allow us to go another way.
What did you learn about the Earthrise moment when you set about recreating it?
Emmart: This picture has such an inheritance. When you think of Apollo, think of this picture. Before, the moon was something in a landscape, romantic and mythological. Then suddenly we were over this lonely landscape – "great devastation," as Buzz Aldrin said. The lifeless moon under the earth, on which everything we know is located. I also wanted to be able to see the Earth in real time as the Apollo 8 crew fired their translinar injection rocket engine to downsize the Earth.
The Apollo Program Revolved . , The lunchboxes were about the moon. Kennedy's speech was about the moon and the stars. But when we got there, we looked back and that really changed things. It triggered the environmental movement. The earth was never without strife, but 1968 was a particularly difficult time. With Apollo 8 we looked back at all the screaming and shouting and everything that divided us and saw the counterpoint: this is our place, it's beautiful and it lives. It stands in stark contrast to the non-living moon.
They speak of Earthrise as a spontaneous moment. What do you mean by that?
Emmart: NASA was down to the split second detailing everything in detail, but the photos of Earthrise just kind of happened: "Yeah, I'll take a picture of it. "It has only joined on such a human level. As the astronauts sought to say something appropriate [on their Christmas Eve broadcast]they chose Genesis from the Old Testament, one of the deepest myths of common origin. That was a surprise even to the air traffic controllers. Gene Kranz [the NASA flight director] said he had tears in his eyes because it was so big.
The view of the earth was really profound. We knew what our planet was, but we did not really know until we saw it.
The feeling of desolation is really expressed in the words of the astronauts and in the pictures. See how the Earthrise unfolds fully.
Emmart: I do not want to be a rival and say, "Listen to what they said about the moon, it's awful!" But it's a reflection about it. With the power visualization I felt this desperation. All three [on Apollo 8] talked about how beautiful the moon was, but it had an unmistakable, untouched quality. Lonely. Not a very inviting place to live or work. I think NASA freaked out [about the gloomy tone of their comments]. But I am glad that NASA did not control their reactions. They responded in a very human way.
How did this feeling of desolation affect the way they perceived the earth?
Emmart: You hear the astronauts talk about how the blackness of space has a personality about it. [Apollo 17 astronaut] Gene Cernan roughly said: "You see the sun and it's burning, it's too bright to look at, and then you turn aside and that light just goes into the blackness it's swallowing." It's a blackness that is almost unimaginable. And then the light hits something! When it hits the moon, it's anthracite gray. Now take this anthracite gray and turn off the white of the earth clouds and the blue of the ocean and the greens of the vegetation and the brown brown of the desert.
This is an artist palette, a palette that you do not use anywhere else in the solar system. The earth sparkles with life. Then you look at the moon. It's outside of our magnetosphere, it has earth that has crushed glass, it's a really difficult place. This is the important message of the Apollo 8 picture. The mission was to defeat the Russians as well, but then it became a surprising Kumbaya moment. This is us, all of us, together in the picture, whether we like it or not.
The Apollo 8 astronauts should get the last word, so here's their own spontaneous responses to the moon, in contrast to the pulsating azure spirit of Earth.  Frank Borman : The moon is different for each of us. I think, each one of us – each of us has our own impression of what he has seen today. I know that I have the impression that it is a huge, lonely, forbidden existence or vastness of nothing that looks more like clouds and pumice clouds, and it does not seem to be a very inviting place to live or work
Jim Lovell : My thoughts are very similar. The great loneliness of the moon is impressive and lets you see what you have on Earth. The earth from here is a great oasis in the vastness of space. Bill Anders : I think that what impressed me the most was the moon's sunrises and sunsets. These, in particular, bring out the stark nature of the terrain, and the long shadows really express the relief that is hard to see on this very bright surface we are walking over. The sky up here is also rather forbidding Predicting expanse of blackness, without stars, when we fly over the moon in daylight.
OTHER RESOURCES to share the experience of Apollo 8:
The OpenSpace software was developed for the type of trajectory information that describes the seconds accuracy required to accurately track space missions to describe. The site offers open source download, description and videos as well as tutorials.
Researchers at NASA-JPL and Ames Research Center have developed a wonderfully intuitive browser that can also display 3D views and model output for the 3D printing of the Moon.
NASA Goddard also has a fantastic browser with time data about the Earth. If you want, you can go directly to the pictures.
Carter Emmart worked with a group of students to use photogrammetry to bring new visual life to the old Hasselblad images of the Moon.
We still have the full Apollo 8 crew alive, the only full crew. They were honored last month at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry with host and author Robert Kurson, who recently wrote his story in the book Rocket Men. There is a video recording of this unique memorial service.