These two images are some of the first views of Earth taken from the vicinity of the moon. They were taken by NASA’s Lunar Orbiter 1 in August 1966 as the spacecraft was on its 16th orbit around the moon.
The purpose of the Lunar Orbiter programme was to gather high resolution images of the moon’s surface in order to identify potential landing sites. The camera contained dual lenses, a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens. For every wide-angle shot of an area, the telephoto lens would capture three high-resolution images of smaller zones in that same area. A total of five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft produced a medium-detail map of 99 percent of the moon’s surface. The decision to point the camera toward Earth was only made after the mission was already in progress, giving us the views captured here.