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Cameras....In.....SPAAAAAAAACE
May 4, 2007 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Knowing that Sputnick went up in 1957, when would you guess the first photo from space was taken? If your answer is "more than 10 years earlier", you'd be right. (Previously 1 and 2)
posted by DU (44 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Errrr...the poster my coworker has up (which is where I learned about this) said 1947. The article says 1946. The photo itself is labeled 1948. So let's make that "around 10 years earlier".
posted by DU at 10:14 AM on May 4, 2007


Cool!
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:15 AM on May 4, 2007


Hmm... Cool photos, but I wonder if we're not bluring the boundaries between "Space" and "Really High Up" here.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on May 4, 2007


Space is commonly defined as 100 km = 62 miles.
posted by DU at 10:23 AM on May 4, 2007


I'd like to have this romantic notion that once a society has seen its world from the outside, seen with its own eyes (so to speak) that it is finite, a tiny oasis floating in an endless hostile void, that they learn to care for the place properly.

I'd like to think so, but unfortunately it doesn't appear to be true.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:24 AM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Incredible. Thank you.
posted by boo_radley at 10:25 AM on May 4, 2007


DU - I guess I should have wikied it first before commenting. (RTFA helps too).
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on May 4, 2007


Spud Webb was famous for saying his mom named him for Sputnik when asked how he got his name.
posted by Eekacat at 10:33 AM on May 4, 2007


Cool photos, but I wonder if we're not bluring the boundaries between "Space" and "Really High Up" here.

What boundary?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:42 AM on May 4, 2007


What boundary?

The terrible seal/crest of space.
posted by cortex at 10:44 AM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Looks like North and South weren't as far apart back then as they are today. Interesting.
posted by Anything at 10:47 AM on May 4, 2007


The combination to open the boundary is 1 2 3 4 5.
posted by brundlefly at 10:48 AM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


What boundary?

The Karman line, near at the base of the thermosphere. As DU said above, 100km.
posted by mendel at 10:49 AM on May 4, 2007


Though it's not possible to orbit until you get 120 miles up, making it IMHO a much more interesting height. Under that it's basivally second league, X-prizer space :-)
posted by Artw at 10:53 AM on May 4, 2007


Why isn't anyone talking about those big white rectangular UFOs with strange English-type markings?
And the several small circular ones?
Those can't all be Sputnick you know.
posted by Dizzy at 10:56 AM on May 4, 2007


Hmm... I wonder if the official US boundry of 80km is set artificially low to let the X-15 pilots qualify?
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on May 4, 2007


omg, "Sputnik"
posted by DU at 10:59 AM on May 4, 2007


This is a wonderful find. Thank you, DU. And I couldn't see the Great Wall, so we've put paid to that urban legend.
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:03 AM on May 4, 2007


Hmm... I wonder if the official US boundry of 80km is set artificially low to let the X-15 pilots qualify?

It's just a working definition. The US definition predated the international definition.
posted by dhartung at 11:08 AM on May 4, 2007


Nifty find DU. I had always kinda wondered what they did with all those V2s after the war. Now I know.
posted by quin at 11:10 AM on May 4, 2007


Didn't Goddard take lots of pictures on his rockets in the 1930s?
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:10 AM on May 4, 2007


Utterly fascinating. Can you imagine being one of those first scientists who saw the final photos? TO be amongst the first to see some idea of what your home planet looks objectively?

*shudder* Must have been an unbelievable high. (Pardon the pun.)
posted by grubi at 11:11 AM on May 4, 2007


George_Spiggott said: something about a society seeing its world from outside, seeing the finite nature of the planet, etc, etc.

Well, the problem is, a good majority of society has not seen it. You have to ask this question of every person you meet, friend and stranger alike. "Have you ever seen any of the pictures taken of Earth by the astronauts? If yes) can you describe it and get you identify what part of the Earth they were taking a picture of? If no) why not?"

I'm pretty sure you will end up with a lot of people, if you really ask them, will not have grasped the concept in which you are referring, that what they are seeing in those pictures, if they've even seen them, is actually Earth, and that it really is just kind of spinning around the Sun, in this void called space, where there isn't any there there.

I recently watched Joe Rogan's standup routine from his latest DVD. He has this one bit about space, and about how most people really don't grasp the reality of it, and it took psychotropic drugs for him to even think about it. It's his whole Grand Canyon bit, which you can see here. Some people think the Grand Canyon is awe inspiring. That makes no sense to me, what-so-ever.
posted by daq at 11:13 AM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


I found this photo noodling around the Air & Space museum website.


And as an aside, a tourist stopped me near the L'enfant Plaza Metro stop and asked where the Spice Museum was. (??)
It took me a minute to realize he was Australian and looking for the Arr & Spice Museum.
posted by MtDewd at 11:27 AM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


What's really fascinating about these photos is how bad they are compared to just about anything done these days (for understandable reasons). It's like looking at Robert Goddard's first rocket and realzing kids these days play with fireworks bigger than that.

Every generation stands on the shoulders of the previous one and in doing so we advance. But if we look down, can we even appreciate, let alone understand, the giant leaps that those who came before us took?

Once of my favorite classes in college was "History of the Blues". We spent weeks listening to early recorded music and there was a constant refrain in the class of how plain and boring the music was. But we grew up listening to everything that had come afterwards, we listened to the great leaps in music as background filler. In particular, we couldn't understand what was so great about Robert Johnson and his playing technique, which our teacher lauded. Hey, he sounded like everyone else, right?

It was only after we traced and listend to the evolution of blues and jazz from the early 20th century. Once we got to Robert Johnson, it was incredible, startling, a new sound that you instantly got and understood. We had stooped down long enough to understand how giants came to be.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:33 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another little known fact is that famous U.S. Civil War era photographer Matthew Brady was actually the first to send cameras to the edge of space and successfully snap the shutter. Most people do not know this because, unfortunately, his glass negatives did not survive the landing impact.
posted by spock at 11:46 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is really awesome.

And I second daq's point about Joe Rogan and the Grand Canyon. How dumb does a big pit seem when you try and comprehend the incredible vastness of space? Guys! It's just a pit! Think of a supernova! It'll blow your frickin' mind.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:48 AM on May 4, 2007


Maybe I'm just not looking at this thing right... but can someone explain to me how one part of New Mexico is over here (3) and another is way over there (12)?
posted by gignomai at 12:15 PM on May 4, 2007


Very neat.
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:26 PM on May 4, 2007


Maybe I'm just not looking at this thing right... but can someone explain to me how one part of New Mexico is over here (3) and another is way over there (12)?

Keep in mind that the camera is "only" 60 miles up, and the planet is about 8000 miles in diameter, so you're still photographing the surface of the earth at a fairly low angle. The distant horizon in the photo may span 2700 miles, but the items in the "foreground" are much nearer and cover a much smaller distance. Kinda like a picture from a low angle of a crowd, which may be only 10 people across in the row closest to the camera, even as it's many times wider for the part of the crowd further from the camera.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:31 PM on May 4, 2007


Yay, Nazi rockets over America! Teams of Nazi rocket scientists working with the US military and General Electric!

Well, not really. You know what I mean.

Anyway. The White Sands site agrees with the 1946 date:
V-2 No. 13: Motion pictures showing Earth's curvature: October 24, 1946 [...]

V-2 No. 40: Photographs of 800,000 square miles of Earth's surface; July 26, 1948
And there's lots more there about the White Sands V-2 launches.
In addition to material, captured German scientists and missile experts were sent to the U.S. to assist in America's missile program. After careful screening, approximately 100 individuals were chosen to come to this country. A paperclip was placed on their folders and they became part of the program known as "Operation Paperclip."

The Paperclip crew, which was headed by the famous Dr. Wernher Von Braun, arrived in the U.S. on Nov. 17, 1945 and in January 1946 was moved to Fort Bliss, Texas. The group was divided and approximately 20 were assigned to White Sands Proving Ground (WSPG). At the end of a six-month period the Germans were returned to Fort Bliss for renewal of contracts and reassignment. A few of the original group were returned to WSPG to continue work there.

German personnel at WSPG reached its peak of 39 in March 1946. Thereafter, the German specialists and engineers were replaced by American contractor personnel in the spring of 1947.
posted by pracowity at 12:53 PM on May 4, 2007


Thanks for my new desktop at work.
posted by The Power Nap at 1:01 PM on May 4, 2007


Everything east of Peloncillo Mountains (4) and north of Lordsburg (3) is New Mexico. It's interesting that they label (14) as “Valle Grande Mts.” I didn't know that anyone ever called them that. They're the “Jemez Mountains”. Perhaps it's a mislabeling, although of course the Valle Grande is smack-dab in the middle of those mountains because it's a ginormous caldera resulting from the eruption of the supervolcano that formed them.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:06 PM on May 4, 2007


Figures. The rockets carrying the camera that gets our first photo from space, were produced with nazi slave labor. There's one for science and humanity.

http://www.zamandayolculuk.com/cetinbal/V2RROCKET.htm


"V-2 mass production was conducted at underground slave labour camps named Dora, near Nordhausen, Germany. About 10,000 slaves died of overwork or at the hands of their guards from the SS. These slaves were mostly prisoners of war, many were French and Soviet."

"Over 60,000 slaves worked round the clock at gunpoint converting the former calcium sulphate mines, the whole place being a vision of Hell to the unfortunate workers - many of whom came from Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Most feared of the caverns was Gallery 39 - the galvanizing shop - where very few lived longer than two weeks, their lungs disintegrating in the toxic fumes from the metal treatment plant."


Video about initial V2 rocket failures:
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/243002/german_v2_rocket_launch_failures/
posted by thisisdrew at 1:09 PM on May 4, 2007


A great deal of information about how the V2 rockets and parts were transported to the States:

http://www.v2rocket.com/start/chapters/mittel.html

"Maj. William Castille, Intelligence Officer for CCB, is quoted as having said that entering the Mittelwerk tunnels was “like being in a magician's cave." The Americans were stunned to discover orderly rows of V-2 parts and subassemblies stretched out through the tunnels. "

"News of the discovery of Mittelwerk was passed back to Col. Roger Toftoy, Chief of Ordinance Technical Intelligence in Paris. Toftoy had already been requested by Col. Trichel, Chief of the Army Ordinance Rocket Branch at the Pentagon, to acquire 100 V-2s and ship these back to White Sands Proving Ground (WSPG) in New Mexico for further study. Col. Toftoy reported to Col. Joel G. Holmes, and thence to Maj. Gen. Henry B. Taylor, Chief of Ordinance, European Theater of Operations."
posted by thisisdrew at 1:43 PM on May 4, 2007


Video Link of the V2 Rocket, describing the first photos from space.

Another video as well.
posted by thisisdrew at 1:52 PM on May 4, 2007


I told you never to ficht mit der Raketemensch!
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:55 PM on May 4, 2007


Well what would you have them do with the Nazi rockets? Throw them out?

I think it's much better that we used at least one to take sweet pictures.
posted by blasdelf at 3:14 PM on May 4, 2007


It was only after we traced and listend to the evolution of blues and jazz from the early 20th century. Once we got to Robert Johnson, it was incredible, startling, a new sound that you instantly got and understood. We had stooped down long enough to understand how giants came to be.

On a recent holiday I had a similar realisation about art. Now I'm an engineer, and don't really have much interest in art beyond the usual "That looks nice". My wife has always loved the impressionists. After a few weeks walking through entire galleries in France full of drab, brown 18th century paintings of the Madonna and the last supper, you'll turn a corner and see a Degas or Renoir from across the room, and it's like a slap in the face it's so good.

And then the breath of fresh air when you start seeing stuff like Picasso, which I had never had an appreciation for. You can almost feel the shackles being broken.
posted by markr at 3:32 PM on May 4, 2007


A Bliss-imprisoned Nazi named Braun
Threatened his American warden Juan,
"Ja, it's far too hot here for LOX,
But there's plenty of rocks
To throw when my Vergeltungswaffen are gone."
posted by Haruspex at 4:30 PM on May 4, 2007


Yikes.
posted by Dizzy at 4:53 PM on May 4, 2007


dupe madness!
posted by cortex at 4:57 PM on May 4, 2007


I'd like to have this romantic notion that once a society a ship of pigs has seen its world from the outside, seen with its own eyes (so to speak) that it is finite, a tiny oasis floating in an endless hostile void, that they learn to care for the place properly.

I'd like to think so, but unfortunately it doesn't appear to be true.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:50 PM on May 4, 2007


Thermosphere Nazis?

Fff. I *hate* thermosphere Nazis...
posted by mazola at 8:20 PM on May 4, 2007


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