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Behind the lens of the camera which took the iconic first colour picture of Earth

Discussion in 'Education & Research' started by Anees, May 18, 2012.

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  1. Anees

    Anees Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Behind the lens of the camera which took the iconic first colour picture of Earth from space


    As cameras go, this one is out of this world.
    For while this Hasselblad 500EL is 50 years old, it will live on in history as the camera which voyaged into space and joined Man as we took that first step on to another world.
    This camera joined the crews on the first test space-flights in the 1960s, and then took those iconic shots of Neil Armstrong bounding across the moon's surface.


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    Once NASA chose the Hasselblad camera as the equipment of choice for space missions, the brand never died - and the Swedish-based Hasselblad firm was still producing variants of the camera in 2008.
    The cameras first went up on the Apollo 8 mission, taking photos that will live on forever, including 'Earthrise',

    The colour picture of our planet taken from space shows our blue orb hovering over a grey moonscape, and was captured from Apollo 8 on December 24, 1968.
    NASA asked for some modifications to make the cameras space-worthy, such as special polarised filters for the lenses and special glass plates which added those iconic cross-hair grids onto all their images.

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    Hasselblad was founded at the start of photographic era in 1841, and helped the Swedish government build aerial cameras in World War II.
    The company became a worldwide success after NASA chose the 500EL to accompany man to the moon, and stayed successful for the next few decades.


    But the company did not predict the advent of digital film, and lost traction during the tail-end of the 1990s, with companies like Nikon and Canon rising up to take their place. The company is now staking a claim with their new breed of merged digital and film camera.
    And NASA has still kept the faith, with Hasselblad cameras still circling the Earth on the International Space Station, used by the astronauts whenever they want a picture.
    On their website, the company pays tribute to their off-world wonder, saying: 'From our first space journey on October 3,1962, Hasselblad cameras have played an integral part in the Space program, capturing the images that help us to understand our world and its surroundings.
    'There are a range of special modifications and improvements required to meet the stringent demands of space travel.
    'We then apply the knowledge and expertise we gain in space and bring it back to earth, further improving the Hasselblad line.
    'All to ensure that we continue to provide the finest photographic equipment on – or off - the planet.'
    A year after 'Earthrise', three of these camera went up to the moon with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, each equipped with film cartridges which could capture up to 200 images.
    Naturally, as anyone who has flown long-distance can attest, luggage-space is always at a premium, so the astronauts left behind all 12 cameras that accompanied them to the moon.
    But luckily for us, and for future generations, they remembered to bring the films back.
    Sadly, what the local camera shop thought when the astronauts asked them to develop the film is not known...
    How astronauts on Apollo 8 nearly missed the iconic 'Earthrise' shot:
    A new 3D Nasa visualisation using hi-res moon images revealed how 'Earthrise' nearly didn't happen.
    'You got a colour film, Jim?' one astronaut calls out - and for nearly a minute, the crew scramble to find a camera for what would become one of the most famous photographs in history.
    On December 24, 1968, three people saw the Earth rise happen firsthand: Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman and crew members William A. Anders and James A. Lovell, Jr.
    'Oh my god look at that picture over there. Here's the Earth coming up,' says one of the astronauts in a recording Nasa used to reconstruct its 3D video. 'You got a colour film Jim. Hand me a roll of colour quick.'
    One astronaut takes a picture with a black-and-white Hasselblad cameras on board the craft - then 58 seconds later, the crew found a colour camera.
    'I got it - It's a beautiful shot.'
    At the time of the famous photo, Apollo 8 was rounding the moon for the fourth time, traveling in a nearly circular orbit about 68 miles above the moon's surface at about a mile per second.
    'The spacecraft was pointed down to look at the moon's surface, because Anders was conducting an extensive photographic survey,' explains James Rice, an astrogeologist at Goddard. 'But Lovell needed to perform a navigation sighting, so Borman rolled the spacecraft.' That's when Earth abruptly appeared.


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    Pictured: The camera which took the iconic first colour picture of Earth from space - and of Neil Armstrong exploring the moon | Mail Online
     
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