The earth in full view

This Dec.1972 photo released by NASA shows a view of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew while traveling toward the Moon. Only two dozen men, those who traveled to the Moon, have had the full Earth view. Most U.S. spaceflights have been in low orbit, where only a piece of the Earth can be seen, a lesser but still impressive glimpse.The photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area, top, to the Antarctica South polar ice cap, made visible for the first time by the Apollo trajectory.  (AP Photo/Courtesy of Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center)For Earth Day this year, The Associated Press asked space travelers to recall what it’s like to see Earth from above:

“It was the only color we could see in the universe. … “We’re living on a tiny little dust mote in left field on a rather insignificant galaxy. And basically this is it for humans. It strikes me that it’s a shame that we’re squabbling over oil and borders.”

_Bill Anders, Apollo 8, whose photos of Earth became famous.

“It’s hard to appreciate the Earth when you’re down right upon it because it’s so huge.

“It gives you in an instant, just at a position 240,000 miles away from it, (an idea of) how insignificant we are, how fragile we are, and how fortunate we are to have a body that will allow us to enjoy the sky and the trees and the water … It’s something that many people take for granted when they’re born and they grow up within the environment. But they don’t realize what they have. And I didn’t till I left it.”

_Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 and 13.

“The sheer beauty of it just brought tears to my eyes.

“If people can see Earth from up here, see it without those borders, see it without any differences in race or religion, they would have a completely different perspective. Because when you see it from that angle, you cannot think of your home or your country. All you can see is one Earth….”

Anousheh Ansari, American space tourist who flew last year to the international space station.

More reflections here in the Washington Post.

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