From Global Warming Art
"The Blue Marble" is a photograph of the Earth taken December 7, 1972 by Apollo 17 astronauts en route to the Moon. The image shows Africa, Antarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula, and is one of very few photos were the entire visible disk of the Earth is illuminated at the time of the photo. There have been no manned space flights since Apollo 17 that have gotten sufficiently far from the surface of the Earth in order to capture the entire Earth in a single photograph. Subsequent images showing similar views (e.g. Blue Marble: The Next Generation) are often the result of superimposing multiple satellite images taken from a lower orbit.
This image of the Earth was widely adopted by the environmental movement, often to symbolize the Earth's apparent fragility and/or unity. Due to the uniform illumination, it also became a common illustration of the Earth even when no environmental meaning was implied (examples). Mike Gentry of the NASA's Media Resource Center has suggested that this image may be the most widely distributed single photograph in all of human history .
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