NASA celebrated its 60th birthday last year and will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing in July.
One thing that connects these decades of scientific discovery and intrepid missions is the amazing photography that the agency has distributed – free and in abundance – as part of its mission.
Cape Canaveral Mercury Control Center, from which seven manned space flights were supervised between May 1961 and March 1965. Credit: NASA
But NASA did not initially intend to keep a visual record as detailed and as detailed, according to the author and publisher of the book, Bizony Piers.
"Photography was not really one of the top priorities," he said during a phone interview. "There was even one of the first proposals for the first human capsule, the Mercury, not to have a window at all.These are the astronauts who started taking Hasselblad cameras with them to see what they were going to have.
"NASA did not really plan this, but they understood that the images were a very important part of the message," he added, "and the people of Earth wanted to see what was going on there. -haut. "
The moon of Jupiter Io seen by the Cassini probe, launched in 1997. Credit: NASA
"It's almost by chance that Armstrong held the camera most of the time," Bizony said. "So, although Buzz Aldrin did not have the satisfaction of being the first man on the moon, it is his image that represents this great feat."
Buzz Aldrin foot on the moon. It is likely that the footprint is still intact, as the moon has neither atmosphere nor rain to weaken it. Credit: NASA
Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is expected to be launched in 2021, after several delays.
"James Webb will operate at a very great distance from the Earth, and it will not be easy – if at all – for astronauts to fix it in case of a problem," said Bizony. "That's why everyone is so careful about putting it in order before it's launched."
Astronaut Dave Scott is looking at the planet Earth since the hatching of Apollo 9 in March 1969. Credit: NASA
James Webb will be much more powerful than Hubble (and his much larger main mirror), representing the technological advances of nearly three decades. Over time, the imaging technology used on NASA's probes and telescopes has dramatically improved, although the nature of space exploration often requires the agency to use obsolete equipment.
"Even NASA's most sophisticated space probe uses the technology of 10 years ago because it takes 10 years to develop and implement a complex space program," Bizony said.
Astronaut Ed White, photographed by Commander Jim McDivitt, in June 1965, aboard Gemini 4, the first space exploration mission of NASA. Credit: NASA
"That being said, we have moved from the early days of black-and-white images, with a few pixels of resolution, to the very high-resolution images we get from the surface of Mars.
"You can see the progress that has been made and the amazement of the images – it's almost unbelievable – it's as if Mars was two-fingered."
NASA has not launched a program capable of human spaceflight since the withdrawal of its space shuttle fleet in 2011. Return trips to the International Space Station have been made by Russia to the United States. using the Soyuz space shuttle from the country.
The Curiosity mobile in a self-portrait taken on August 5, 2015 on Mars. Credit: NASA
"NASA is uncertain about its future direction," said Bizony. "They've been trying for a long time to talk about going to Mars and putting humans on Mars, but the truth is that: this is just not possible in the current generation because we do not really know how solve a lot of problems. " problems that come with that.
"Going back to the moon would be a lot more realistic, but I'm not sure that there is enough money to put humans back on the moon.
Apollo 11 control module pilot Michael Collins inspects NASA's lunar reception lab at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. Credit: NASA
Many NASA photographs have marked history, but there is one that – perhaps more than any other – has offered a cosmic perspective to Earthlings.
"Everyone on Earth said" A-ha! "If I flew around the moon, that's what I would see." Said Bizony. "And so we shared this perspective"
View of the Earth as seen by the crew of Apollo 17 heading for the moon, known as "Blue Marble". Credit: nasa
"This image of the Earth floating on an infinite absolute blackness, as seen by man, was incredibly important."
Top Image: Mothership "Balls Three" flies over an X-15 in 1961.