I have oft marveled at the greatest gift of the Apollo Program -- not from the landings but from the earlier Apollo 8 mission, the first in which humans broke the bonds of Earth. It happened in 1968 - twelve crazed and frenetic months that brought most Americans -- and most of the world -- to the brink of exhaustion and despair. Yes, great music washed over us in a veritable tsunami... as did tragedies, war, invasions, assassinations, riots, betrayals, and fed-up demands for transformation.
Only then, at the very end of that awful year, a final token arrived -- like a gleam of hope shining at the bottom of Pandora’s Box...when the Apollo 8 astronauts brought home that first perfect image of the Earth, floating as a blue marble in the vast desert of space. A picture that moved all but the most cynical hearts and changed forever our outlook towards this fragile oasis world.
Now that image has been surpassed in beauty (an we can hope – effectiveness.) Even more gorgeous in contrast — and almost the final space news of a spectacular year — is the composite image that NASA released on December 19, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, as it passed about 83 miles above a lunar crater. Same theme, but a timely reminder.http://www.chron.com/about/article/NASA-releases-stunning-new-image-of-Earth-taken-6713006.php