The Blue Marble is an image of Earth taken on December 7, 1972, from a distance of about 29,000 kilometers (18,000 miles) from the planet's surface. It was taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft on its way to the Moon, and is one of the most reproduced images in history.[a]
It mainly shows the Earth from the Mediterranean Sea to Antarctica. This was the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap, despite the Southern Hemisphere being heavily covered in clouds. In addition to the Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar, almost the entire coastline of Africa is clearly visible. The Asian mainland is on the horizon.
NASA has also applied the name to a 2012 series of images which cover the entire globe at relatively high resolution. These were created by looking through satellite pictures taken over time in order to find as many cloudless photographs as possible to use in the final images.
The photograph, taken on December 7, 1972, at 05:39 a.m. EST (10:39 UTC),[better source needed ] is one of the most widely distributed photographic images in existence. The image is one of the few to show an almost fully illuminated Earth as the astronauts had the Sun behind them when they took the image. To the astronauts, the slightly gibbous Earth had the appearance and size of a glass marble, hence the name. It has been mostly shown with Antarctica at the bottom, although the actual view the astronauts had was with Antarctica on top.