NASA’s ‘Blue Marbles’: Pictures of Earth From 1972 to Today

To celebrate NASA’s newest photo of Earth, here’s a look at some of the ones that came before it.

On Monday, NASA released a photo of the entire sunlit side of Earth—the first since the original Blue Marble photo in 1972. NASA has released several similar images of Earth since then, but they were stitched together from multiple photos taken at different times. Unlike those, this week’s photo captured the planet's sunny side at one moment.

This new view of Earth comes from a mission meant to collect this kind of data. In February, NASA launched the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) to provide a continuous look at Earth’s sunlit face. With a 24-hour view of where the sun shines, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hopes to track solar storms before they hit Earth.

(Read about the DSCOVR launch.)

DSCOVR took this week’s photo from one million miles away. The Apollo 17 crew took the original Blue Marble from 28,000 miles away. Compared to the original, the new shot may look a little bluer. That’s because the photo hasn’t been color-corrected to account for sunlight scattered by air molecules, which tints the Earth blue when viewed from space—making the DSCOVR’s photo a distinctly hued marble.