Earth rising over the moon

NASA • Apollo 11

Earth Rising as seen from the Moon

One of the driving forces for digital imaging was the need for military spy satellites built during the 1950s and 60s. Engineers soon realized there was no way to bring photographs back to earth, so they had to be transmitted via radio signal, which meant they had first to be digitized. When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969 with his famous words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," millions watched as the pictures streamed to Earth using technology developed during the cold war for spy satellites and spy planes like the U2.

Most astronauts who have seen the Earth from the moon or space were profoundly affected by their experience. Here's what some had to say:

We went to the moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians.
Edgar Mitchell, USA

During a space flight, the psyche of each astronaut is reshaped. Having seen the sun, the stars, and our planet, you become more full of life, softer. You begin to look at all living things with greater trepidation and you begin to be more kind and patient with the people around you. At least that is what happened to me.
Boris Volynov, USSR

The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day we were aware of only one Earth.
Sultan Bin Salman al-Saud, Saudi Arabia

From space I saw Earth—indescribably beautiful with the scars of national boundaries gone.
Muhammad Ahmad Faris, Syria

[From The Home Planet, ed. Kevin W. Kelly]

I find myself fascinated by space imagery, which appears frequently throughout my collages. In Dolphin, the background is a picture of Galaxy Cluster Abell 2218 taken from Nasa's Hubble Space Telescope. Astronaut Edwin Aldrin is a frequent visitor, appearing in Hong Kong, Couch and Red Room.

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