On December 7, 1972 Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt on the Apollo 17 spacecraft took the the Blue Marble photograph of the earth from a distance of about 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles). The image is one of the first to show a fully illuminated Earth, as the astronauts had the Sun behind them when they took the image. To the astronauts Earth had the appearance of a glass marble. The photograph became one of the most widely distributed of all photographic images.
Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned mission in the United States Apollo space program. In 2012 it remained the most recent manned Moon landing and the most recent manned flight beyond low Earth orbit.
In January 2012 NASA released its 2012 version of the Blue Marble image. Using a planet-pointing satellite, Suomi NPP, the space agency created an extremely high-resolution photograph of our watery world. The Suomi satellite compiled the image from small sections that it photographed over the course of January 4, 2012. The pictures were later stitched together.
In July 2012 many technical details regarding the origins of the 1972 Blue Marble photo were available from Eric Hartwell's InfoDabble website.