Earth Images - Distant Views

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Earth Viewed From The Moon

All photos by NASA

This picture electrified the world when it was taken in 1966 by one of the Lunar Orbiter spacecraft. It was the first picture ever of the Earth as seen rising over the Moon.
This astonishing picture, surprisingly, is rarely seen. Taken in 1966 by one of the Surveyor lunar landers, it was for many years the only picture ever taken of a lunar eclipse as seen from the Moon. The Earth is totally eclipsing the sun, but sunlight scattered by the Earth's atmosphere creates a bright ring around the Earth.
The classic Apollo images of Earthrise as seen from the Moon
Very thin crescent earth above the Moon's surface

Apollo Views of Earth

South America at center, Antarctica at bottom
Centered on the equator in mid-Atlantic
Looking down on the Atlantic, with South America visible at lower left.
Africa and the Arabian Peninsula are prominent in this view.
Sunrise above a thin crescent Earth.
The only true full Earth photo by Apollo is centered on South Africa. Note the sun glint between Africa and Madagascar.
Asia is mostly under clouds but Australia is visible at lower right. Note the sun glint in the Indian Ocean.
Africa and Arabia at top, Antarctica at bottom
A crescent Earth, one of the loveliest images ever returned from space.
California and Mexico appear through a clear spot just right of center.

Galileo Views of Earth

Not the first view of Earth and its moon together (that was taken by Voyager). The distance between the two has been reduced and the brightness of the Moon greatly enhanced.
Galileo stole energy from the Earth and Venus to get enough speed to match Jupiter's velocity. This view during its earth flyby is centered on the Indian Ocean with India at top, Australia at right and Antarctica at bottom.

Earth As Seen From Mars

On May 8, 2003, the Mars Global Surveyor took the first detailed picture of Earth from another planet.

It is impossible to show the Earth and Moon together in such a picture directly because Earth is about 25 times brighter than the Moon, so the Moon has to be enhanced.

On October 3, 2007, the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took a picture under nearly identical lighting circumstances, but with much more detail. In both Earth photos, South America dominates the daylit side.

Earth As Seen From Saturn

This image of Saturn's rings is a composite of images taken on September 15, 2006 by the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. The bright dot about 1/3 of the way down and 3/4 of the way across is Earth. An enlarged view at upper left even shows the Moon, which at the time was nearly in line with Earth (though not very close to Saturn as seen from our end).

Every person who ever lived, even the Apollo astronauts, never left that small box.

Return to Planetary Images Index
Access Course Notes on Planetary Geology
Return to Professor Dutch's Home Page

Created 6 April 1999, Last Update 11 January 2020