The blue marble is probably the most famous photograph of Earth ever made. It’s appeared absolutely everywhere and it’s been used to promote every cause under the Sun. It was taken by the crew of Apollo 17—the last manned mission to the Moon—around five hours after launch on December 7, 1972. The photo originally showed Antarctica at the top, but was rotated before release. The original caption reads:
View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. This translunar coast photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to the Antarctica south polar ice cap. This is the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap. Note the heavy cloud cover in the Southern Hemisphere. Almost the entire coastline of Africa is clearly visible. The Arabian Peninsula can be seen at the northeastern edge of Africa. The large island off the coast of Africa is Madagascar. The Asian mainland is on the horizon toward the northeast.
NASA credits the entire Apollo 17 crew— Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt—with the picture, although it’s commonly believed that Schmitt took the picture. It was taken handheld with a space Hasselblad, on 70mm Ektachrome 64 ISO film. NASA’s official designation for the picture is AS17-148-22727, and there exists an AS17-148-22726 that’s almost identical.
Harrison “Jack” Schmitt was a geologist, and he wasn’t even supposed to be part of the mission—until it became clear that Apollo 17 would be the last manned mission to the Moon, and NASA wanted a scientist-astronaut on the mission.