The first photographs of Planet Earth from above the atmosphere were taken on October 24, 1946. The photographs were shot at a height of 65 miles over the New Mexico desert by a V-2 missile that was launched at the White Sands Missile Range. The blurry, black and white photographs clearly revealed the curve of the Earth's surface, though at that low altitude only a partial view of the globe was possible.

It was not until 1961, with the initiation of NASA manned spaceflights, that Americans could see amazing pictures of our planet from space -- pictures that changed everything.

To view our planet from space meant gaining a point of view never before possible for mankind. From space no political boundaries, no dividing lines between countries, no ethnic homelands are to be seen. Instead we see that our planet is a shimmering blue ball hanging in the darkness of Space.

Even from Space, the evidence of ever-present life is clear: 77% of the globe is covered with sparkling blue water; white-cloud weather forms swirl around the globe; and the glorious shades of green alert any observer to the presence of photosynthesis-based plant forms.

On December 24, 1968 astronaut William A. Anders snapped a famous photograph from the Apollo 8 spacecraft in lunar orbit as it emerged from the back side of the moon. Crew commander Frank Borman exclaimed, "Oh my God, look at that picture over there! Here's the Earth coming up!"

Earthrise, as this photo came to be called, is surely one of the most stunning and evocative images ever taken of the planet from Space. We see the blue-green fertility of our life-filled home as it contrasts with the sterile lunar landscape below, set against the background of vast and empty Space.

Noted outdoors photographer Galen Rowell has described this image as "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken."

Perhaps we are jaded, after all this time. A space agency website catalogs some 745,000 photos of the planet from space. Yet these pictures evoke a sense of place in a way that language cannot. These photographs can reawaken that sense of wonder we felt when we first saw Earthrise -- and to indelibly and unforgettably remind us how vast and beautiful and vulnerable is this planet.

Artist Lance Hidy says that the pictures of the planet from Space changed history. We can no longer deny the vulnerability of our planet, nor the need to cooperate to effectively care for our Home.

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