NASA SP-168 EXPLORING SPACE WITH A CAMERA
Describing the spectacular, historic view above, FLOYD L. THOMPSON, then Director, Langley Research Center, wrote: "At 16:35 GMT on August 23, 1966, the versatile manmade Lunar Orbiter spacecraft responded to a series of commands sent to it from Earth, across a quarter-million miles of space, and made this over-the-shoulder view of its home planet from a vantage point 730 miles above the far side of the Moon.
"At that moment," Thompson continued, "the Sun was setting along an arc extending from England [on the right] to Antarctica [on the left]. Above that line, the world, with the east coast of the United States at the top, was still bathed in afternoon sunlight. Below, the major portion of the African Continent and the Indian Ocean were shrouded in the darkness of evening. "By this reversal of viewpoint, we here on the...
... and an Oblique View of the Moon Itself
....Earth have been provided a sobering glimpse of the spectacle of our own planet as it will be seen by a few of our generation in their pursuit of the manned exploration of space. We have achieved the ability to contemplate ourselves from afar and thus, in a measure, accomplish the wish expressed by Robert Burns: 'To see oursels as ithers see us! "
Also visible in dramatic new perspective in this photograph is the singularly bleak Iunar landscape, its tortured features evidently hammered out by a cosmic bombardment that may have extended over billions of years.
Because the airless, weatherless Moon appears to preserve its surface materials so well, it may serve science as an illuminating record of past events in the solar system. ROBERT JASTROW, Director Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has called the Moon "the Rosetta Stone of the planets."