Monday, February 18, 2013
The First Photograph Taken From Outer Space
Posted by Jay at 8:00 AM
This black-and-white image might not look like much, but it represent the first step towards the creation of a new field of photography. What looks like random patches of black, grey and white are actually the earth's horizon as seen from above the planet's atmosphere. This is actually the first photograph ever taken from outer space.
The first picture from space was taken on October 24, 1946 above the New Mexico desert, and was the first frame captured by a motion picture camera snapping photos every 1.5 seconds. Unlike later images, this one was taken from a camera strapped to a V-2 rocket which flew to an altitude of around 65 miles (105 kilometers) above sea level for a few minutes before crashing back down to Earth. The flight might not seem substantial, but it produced images higher than previous attempts with air balloons.
This sub-orbital milestone would be overtaken 15 years later with the first photographs taken from an orbiting satellite. Still, it represents a huge leap into new territory for photography and space exploration. This article from the Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine goes into more detail about the historic flight. There are plenty more out-of-this-world images in the space section of this blog. To see how far space photography has come since 1946, check out Michael Benson's Planetfall series.