Earthrise, Revisited

On December 24, 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, William Anders and Jim Lovell were the first humans to witness an Earthrise as our home planet came up over the lunar horizon. The photos they captured were the first of their kind, instantly inspiring the imaginations of millions and highlighting the beauty and fragility of our world.

Now, NASA has used modern satellite data to recreate the scenes that the Apollo 8 astronauts saw 44 years ago and combined them with their historic photographs to present a new “Earthrise”… version 2.0.

Created in recognition of Earth Day 2012, the Earthrise animation was made from data acquired by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s laser altimeter, as well as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra Earth-observing satellite.

“This visualization recreates for everyone the wondrous experience of seeing Earth from that privileged viewpoint,” says LRO Project Scientist Rich Vondrak of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Animator Ernie Wright recreated the scene using Apollo mission reports and photos taken by the crew. The audio is a recording of original communication from the astronauts.


“I think the one overwhelming emotion that we had was when we saw the earth rising in the distance over the lunar landscape… it makes us realize that we all do exist on one small globe. For from 230,000 miles away it really is a small planet.”

— Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Commander

Read the release on the NASA LRO site here.


2 Replies to “Earthrise, Revisited”

  1. Rising above a Moonscape of “Magnificent Desolation”,
    A Living Planet in the dark void of boundless night.
    With all manner of life, thriving, this World haven;
    In Biosphere of beauty, color-animated in Sunlight.

    Amidst a Solar System of lifeless wastelands of fire and ice, storm-wrecked and barren-surfaced:
    This radiant Jewel, in stark contrast to “a vast, lonely, forbidding expanse of nothing.” – Borman

    And from man’s first orbital flight around another world, the crew gave a reading heard by all mankind: “We are now approaching lunar sunrise and, for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. ….”

    “Due to the synchronous rotation of the Moon about the Earth, Earthrise is not generally visible from the Lunar surface. Earthrise is generally only visible when orbiting the Moon, other than at selected places near the Moon’s limb, where libration carries the Earth slightly above and below the lunar horizon.” – Wikipedia

  2. Too bad GSFC didn’t release a “real time” video sequence to depict the drama of the earth slowly rising above the horizon. It would also be great to have a hi-res still image that accurately replicates the famous Apollo 8 earthrise image.

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