National Aeronautics and Space Administration




Houston, Texas

December 1976









John L. Kaltenbach



                  Verl R. Wilmarth

                               Acting Chief, Science Payloads Division


                            Owen K. Garriot

                             Director of Science and Application





December 1976


Throughout history, man has been possessed with the desire to view the Earth he has been bound to for thousands of years, from a higher vantage point.  Prior to the first manned balloon flights, his greatest synoptic observations were from the highest terrain, as the summits of mountains.

During the Civil War, the earliest cameras recorded scenes of the Earth from aerial balloons at elevations of several hundred feet.  Later, the use of aircraft allowed man to visually observe and record, through a variety of camera systems, increasingly more beautiful, useful, and sophisticated photography of our Earth from ever-increasing altitudes.

With the event of spaceflight, a new dimension of viewing our planet evolved.  The limited photographs taken from early unmanned rockets whetted the appetites of a few individuals who could perceive the vast potential and prospective applications of the synoptic view of our Earth by the human eye, and recording photographic and imaging systems

The table is a compilation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration orbital and suborbital missions flown above our Earth in Space, from Alan Shepard’s first manned Mercury flight through the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.  The photographic instruments, viewing devices, reference information, and recording systems used, as well as the related training of the astronauts, experiments assigned, and remarkable data obtained by these crewmen in viewing the Earth during these missions, are listed.

The accompanying references, prepared by numerous contributors, serve to amplify and document the basic information on observations of the Earth contained in the table.

The intent of this document is to provide a history of Earth observations from manned and selected unmanned Earth-orbiting spacecraft, and to serve as a reference for planning future observations of our planet from space by man.







1.                  The flight of Freedom 7;  C. B. Jackson, Jr., in: National Geographic, September 1961.

2.                  The Pilot’s Story:  Astronaut Shepard’s Firsthand Account of His Flight;  A. B.

Shepard, in: National Geographic, September 1961.


3.                  John Glenn’s Three Orbits in Friendship 7;  R. B. Voas, in: National Geographic, June


4.                  Project Mercury:  A Chronology;  J. M. Grimwood, NASA SP-4001, 1963.

5.                  A Review of Photography of the Earth from Sounding Rockets and Satellites; P.D.

            Lowman, Jr., in:  NASA TN D-1868, December 1964.

6.                  Space Photography – A Review;   P. D. Lowman, Jr., in: Photogrammetric Engineering,

      January, 1965.

7.                  Photography from Space; P.D. Lowman Jr., in: Science Journal, May 1965

8.                  This New Ocean, A History of Project Mercury; L. S. Swenson, Jr., J.M. Grimwood, 

            and C.C. Alexander, NASA SP-4201, 1966

9.                  The Earth From Orbit;  P. D. Lowman, Jr., in: National Geographic, November, 1966.

10.              Exploring Space With a Camera; Compiled and Edited by E. M. Cortright, NASA SP-

           168, 1968.

11.              Color Photography from Space;  R. W. Underwood, in:  Manual of Color Aerial


            Photography, American Society of Photogrammetry, 1968.

12.              Apollo Experience Report – Photographic Equipment and Operations During Manned


      Spaceflight Programs;  H. A. Kuehnel, NASA TN D-6972, September 1972.

13.              Earth Observations from Space:  Outlook for the Geological Sciences;  N. M. Short and      

            P. D. Lowman, Jr., NASA X-650-73-316, October 1973.

14.              Training for Earth-Orbital Terrain Photography;  P. D. Lowman, Jr., prepared for

            U.S.G.S. Professional Paper, in preparation, D. Jackson, Editor.

15.              Manned Space Flight Experiments Symposium, Gemini Missions III and IV;

            (Published as NASA Proceedings), held at Auditorium of the Museum of Natural

            History, Washington, D.C., October 18-19, 1965.

16.              Gemini 70 mm Photography Identification; R.W. Underwood, NASA, MSC, 1965-



17.              Gemini Midprogram Conference, Including Experiment Results;  NASA SP-121, held

             at Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas, February 23-25, 1966.

18.              Gemini Program Flight Summary Report;  Gemini Missions I through XII, NASA

                  MSC-G-R-66-5 (Revision A), Change 2, January 1967.

19.              Earth Resource Surveys From Spacecraft;  R.A. Leestma, Principal Investigator

NASA Interagency Purchase Request R-47-009-001, Vols. I and II, 15 February 1967.

20.              Gemini Summary Conference; (Experiments S005, S006, and S008).  NASA SP-138,

Sections 18 and 19 February, 1967.


21.              Terrain Photography on the Gemini IV Mission, Preliminary Report;  P. D. Lowman,

            Jr., J.A. McDivitt and E. H. White, III.  NASA Tech. Note D-3982, June 1967.

22.              Geographic Potentials of Spacecraft Imagery;  R. A.Leestma, Principal Investigator,

            NASA Interagency Purchase Request R-47-009-001, 1967.

23.              Earth Photographs from Gemini III, IV, and V;  NASA SP-129, 1967.

24.              Experiments on Visual Acuity and the Visibility of markings on the Ground in Long


Duration Earth Orbital Space Flights;  S. Q. Duntley et al, NASA contract No. NAS

95095, January 1968.

25.              An index of Ocean Features Photographed from Gemini Spacecraft;  R. E. Stevenson

And R. M. Nelson, contribution No. 253.  Prepared for NASA by Bureau of

Commercial Fisheries Biological Laboratory, Galveston, Texas, January, 1968.

26.              Geological Orbital Photography:  Experience from the Gemini Program;  R.D.

            Lowman, Jr., NASA X-644-68-228, June 1968.

27.              View of the Earth from Space;  R. E. Stevenson, in:  Journal of Geological Education,   

            June 1968.

28.              Orbital Photography: Applied Earth Survey Tool;  F. J. Wobber, in:  Photographic

            Applications in Science, Technology and Medicine, Summer 1968.

29.              Gemini Space Photographs of Libya and Tibesti;  A. Pesce, Petroleum Exploration

            Society of Libya publisher, Tripoli, 1968.

30.              Earth Photographs from Gemini VI Through XII;  NASA SP-171, 1968.

31.              Angel’s Eye View of Arizona;  H. A. Tiedemann, in:  Arizona Highways, April 1969.

32.              Manned Systems for Sensing Earth’s Resources;  J. E. Dornbach, in: Proceedings of the

Princeton University Conference on Aerospace Methods for Revealing and Evaluating

Earth’s Resources, September 25 and 26, 1969.

33.              Project Gemini:  A Chronology; J. M. Grimwood, B. C. Hacker, and P. J. Vorzimmer,

NASA SP-4002, 1969.

34.              Terrain Photography from Gemini Spacecraft, Final Geologic Report; P. D. Lowman,

Jr., and H. A. Tiedemann, NASA X644-71-15, January 1971.

35.              The Gemini Program, Physical Sciences Experiments Summary; (Experiments S005,

S006, D006, and M410).  Compiled by E. O. Zeitler and T. G. Rogers, NASA TM X-

58075, September 1971.

36.              Index Maps for Gemini Earth Photography;  Assembled by L. E. Giddings,  Life

Science Applications Dept., LEC, Technical Memorandum JSC-09581, April, 1975.

37.              Evaluation of Geologic Photography and Observations on Gemini and Apollo Earth-

            Orbital Missions;  P.D. Lowman, Jr., prepared for U.S.G.S. Professional Paper, in

            preparation, D. Jackson, Editor.

38.              Analysis of Apollo AS-501 Mission Earth Photography; Compiled by J. E. Dornbach,        

            NASA TM X-58015, February 1968.

39.              Apollo 6 mission Report;  MSC-PA-R-68-9, May 1968.

40.              Apollo AS-502 Mission Data and Information List, 70 mm Color Photography;

Mapping Sciences Branch, NASA/MSC, July 1968.

41.              Science Report of the 70-millimeter Earth Photography of the Apollo 6 Mission;

J. L. Kaltenbach, NASA Technical Note S-217, November 1969.

42.              Potential Earth Resources Applications of the Apollo 6 (502 Mission) Photography;

J. L. Kaltenbach, in;  13th Annual Technical Symposium Proceedings of the SPIE,

August, 19-23, 1968.

43.              Geological Comparison of Spacecraft and Aircraft Photographs of the Potrillo


Mountains, New Mexico, and Franklin Mountains, Texas;  D. L. Amsbury, in:

Proceedings of the Sixth Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment, University

Of Michigan, October 13-16, 1969.

44.              Handbook of Pilot Operational Equipment for Manned Space Flight; Report No.

CD42-A/SL-997, Crew Equipment and Design Branch, JSC, June 1973.

45.              Apollo Earth Landmark Maps;  Scale 1:1,000,000, Edition 1-NASA, June 1968.

46.              Earth Resources Aircraft Program Mission 981;  Aircraft photographic mission during

October 1968 in support of Apollo 7 Mission.


47.              Apollo 7 Mission Report;  MSC-PA-R-68-15, December 1968.

48.              Apollo 7 Mission Data and Information List, 70 mm Color Photography;  Mapping

Sciences Branch, NASA/MSC, 17 March 1969.

49.              Science/Screening Report of the Apollo 7 Mission 70-Millimeter Photography and

            NASA Earth Resources Aircraft Mission 981 Photography;  Compiled by J. L.

           Kaltenbach, NASA TM X-58029, June 1969.

50.              Preflight Calibration/Performance Data for Apollo 9 Experiment S065 Assembly; 

MSC-TF-S065-118, March 20, 1969.

51.              Apollo 9 Photographic Plotting and Indexing Report (Including Aircraft Underflights);

Mapping Sciences Branch, NASA MSC, October 1969.

52.              A Survey of Earth Resources on Apollo 9 Photography;  R. N.  Colwell, NASA

Contract No. NAS 9-9348, 25 April 1969.

53.              Apollo 9 Mission Report;  MSC-PA-R-69-2, May 1969.

54.              Apollo 9 Multispectral Photography, Geologic Analysis;  P. D. Lowman, Jr.,

GSFC X-644-69-423, September 1969.

55.              Preliminary Post-Flight Calibration Report on Apollo 9 Multiband Photography


Experiment So65; P. B. Keenan and P. N. Slater, Optical Sciences Center Technical

Memorandum 1, September 12, 1969.

56.              Apollo 9 Multispectral Photographic Information;  J. L. Kaltenbach,  NASA

TM X-1957, April 1970.

57.              New Way to Study the Ocean from Space;  J. L. Kaltenbach, contributor, Ocean

Industry, September 1969.

58.              Plate Drift in the Afar and Issas Territory (French Somalia) and Eastern Ethiopia as


Seen on Space Photography;  D. Bannert, NASA TN D-6277, June 1972.

59.              Skylab S191 Site Map Data Package;  Flight Planning Branch, JSC, R. Weitenhagen,

a.       book manager; (Maps and photographs used by the crew to identify S-191 Earth

resources sites)  March, 1973.

60.              Skylab Program-EREP Investigators’ Information Handbook;  MSC-07874, Principal

            Investigations Management Office, S & AD, JSC, April 1973.

61.              Manual for 70 mm Handheld Photography from Skylab;  P.D. Lowman, Jr., et al,

GSFC X-644-73-147, May 1973.

62.              Skylab 2 Photographic Index and Scene Identification;  R.W. Underwood, JSC JL12-

            601, July 1973.

63.              Meteorology and Skylab;  K.M. Nagler, in:  Weatherwise, October 1973.

64.              The S191 Skylab Spectrometer – an Example of the Astronaut’s Role in Earth 


            Resources Investigations;  T.L. Barnett, NASA, MSC-06098, 1973.

65.              Skylab 2 Handheld Photography Alphabetized Geographical Features List;  Prepared


By LEC, Inc., for Earth Observations Division, February 1974.

66.              Skylab visual Observations;  V.R. Wilmarth, et al (Document on variety of Earth

features prepared for us by Skylab 3 crew although not carried on flight), July 1993.

67.              Skylab 3 Photographic Index and Scene Identification;  R .W. Underwood, JSC JL12-

602, November 1973.

68.              Skylab 3 Handheld Photography Alphabetized Geographical Features List;  Prepared

By LEC, Inc., for Earth Observations Division, April 1974.

69.              Skylab 4 General Map Package;  Flight Planning Branch, JSC, November, 1973.

70.              Skylab 4 Visual Observations Book;  Flight Planning Branch, JSC, November 6, 1973.

71.              Visual Observations Lectures to Skylab 4 Crewmen;  19 Earth resources specialists,

presenting briefings on Earth resources disciplines, August – November 1973.  (All

Lectures voice recorded and transcribed.)

72.              Skylab Crew Integration Experience Report;  Flight Crew Integration Division, NASA

Johnson Space Center, January 1974.

73.              Skylab 4 Postflight Crew Press Conference;  NASA, JSC, Houston, Texas, February

22, 1974.

74.              Visual Observations Debriefing of Skylab 4 Crewmen;  21 Earth resources specialists

Conducting the debriefings, March 12-20, 1974.  (All debriefings voice recorded and 



75.              Skylab 4 Photographic Index and Scene Identification;  R. W. Underwood, JSC JL12-

603, June 1974.

76.              Skylab 4 Visual Observations Project Report;  J.L. Kaltenbach, et al, JSC-09053,

NASA TM X-58142, June 1974.

77.              Visual Observations from Space;  W.B. Lenoir, et al, in;  Proceedings of the

American Astronautical Society Twentieth Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, California,

August 20-22, 1974.

78.              Observations from Skylab of Mesoscale Turbulence in Ocean Currents;  R.E.  


            Stevenson, in:  Nature, August 23, 1974.

79.              Skylab Program, EREP, Sensor Performance Report;  Volume Vii (S190B), SL2, SL3

And SL4 Evaluation, MSC-05528, October 25, 1974.

80.              Skylab, Outpost on the Frontier of Space;  T. Y. Canby, in:  National Geographic,

October 1974.

81.              Skylab 4 Handheld Photography Alphabetized Geographical Features List;  Prepared

by LEC, Inc., for Earth Observations Division, November, 1974.

82.              Skylab Earth Resources Data Catalog;  NASA, JSC 09016, 1974.

83.              Processing Corrections for Skylab Photographic Imagery;  H. E. Lockwood and G. E.

Sauer, Photogrammetric Engineering, April 1975.

84.              Skylab Program, EREP, Sensor Performance Evaluation Final Report;  Volume 1

(S190A), MSC-05546, May 12, 1975.

85.              Skylab Explores the Earth;  V. R. Wilmarth, et al, in:  Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth

Annual Highway Geology Symposium, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, August 13-15, 1975.

86.              The Development of the Concept of the Huelva Front;  R. E. Stevenson, office of

Naval Research, Unpublished Report, 1, March 1976.

87.              Skylab Explores the Earth;  Edited by G. P. Carr, et al, NASA SP-380 (in publication).

88.              Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Operational Data Book;  MSC 07765.

89.              Preliminary Plan for Earth Observations and Photography on ASTP;  (Experiment

M-136), F. El-Baz, March 27, 1974.

90.              Visual Observations Lectures to ASTP Astronauts;  Earth resources specialists

Presenting briefings on Earth Observations, 1974-1975.

91.              ASTP Earth Observation Map; Scale 1:40,000,000, Training Edition, December 1974.

92.              ASTP Alternate Earth Observations Book (Timeline and Film Budget);  Flight Planning

Branch, JSC, June 27, 1975.

93.              Earth Observations Book, ASTP Final Revision B and Revision B PCN-1;  Flight

Planning Branch, JSC, June 27 and July, 1975.

94.              ASTP Visual Observations Debriefing;  JSC-09920, Science Requirements Branch,

August 12, 1975.

95.              Apollo-Soyuz Test Project:  Index to onboard photography (70 mm, 35mm, 16mm);

R.W.Underwood, September 1975.

96.              Apollo-Soyuz Test Project:  Preliminary Science Report;  NASA Editorial Review

Board, R. T. Giuli, chairman, NASA TM X-58173, February 1976 (Section 10 – Earth

Observations and Photography Experiment MA-136, F. El-Baz and D.A. Mitchell).

97.              Earth Observations and Photography Experiment MA-136 Science Report;  compiled

By F. El-Baz, et al, (in preparations).

98.              Oceanography From Space;  Edited by G.C. Ewing, Proceedings of Conference on the

Feasibility of Conducting Oceanographic Explorations from Aircraft, Manned Orbital

And Lunar Laboratories, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, August 24-28, 1964.

99.              Remote Sensing of Natural Resources;  R. N. Colwell, in:  Scientific American, January


100.          Space Panorama;  P.D. Lowman, Jr., Weltflugbild Rhinehold A. Miller Feldmeilen,

Zurich, Switzerland, and University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, N. C.,

publishers, 1968.

101.          Remote Sensing: New Eyes to See the World;  K.  F. Weaver, in: National Geographic,

January 1969.

102.     Oceans From Space;   Edited by P. C. Badgley, L. Miloy and L.  F. Childs, Proceedings

of a Symposium on the Status of Knowledge, Critical Research Needs, and Potential

Research Facilities Relating to the Study of the Oceans from Space, Gulf Publishing

Company, Houston, Texas, 1969.

      103.     Ecological Surveys From Space; Office of Space Science and Applications,

NASA SP-230, 1970.

104.          This Island North;  Edited by O. W. Nicks, NASA SP-250, 1970.

105.          Monitoring Earth Resources from Aircraft and Spacecraft;  R. N. Colwell, et al,

NASA SP-275, 1971.

106.          The View From Space, Photographic Exploration of the Planets;  M. E. Davies and

B. C. Murray, Columbia University Press, N.Y., 1971.

107.          The Third Planet;  P. D. Lowman, Jr., Rhinehold Press, 1972.

108.          The Application of Space Imagery to Anthropology; T. R. Lyons, et al, in: 

Proceedings Of the Third Annual Conference on Remote Sensing in Arid Lands,

Tucson, Arizona, 1973.

109.          Interpretation of Orbital Photographs;  L. D. Carter and R. O. Stone, Photogrammetric

Engineering, February 1974.

110.          The Earth From Space;  J. Bodechtel and H. G. Gierloff-Emden, Arco Publishing Co.,

Inc., New York, 1974.

111.          Weltraumbilder, Die dritte Entdeckung der Erde;  J. Bodechtel and H. –G. Gierloff-


Emden, Pau; List Verlag, Munchen, Germany, 1974.

112.          The Earth in the Looking Glass;  Lloyd Darden, Anchor Press/Doubleday,

Garden City, N. Y., 1974.

113.     From Mercury to Skylab:  A decade of Space Oceanography;  R. E. Stevenson, in;  Pro-


ceedings of the IEEE Conference on Engineering In the Ocean Environment and

Annual  Meeting of the MTS, San Diego, California, September 22-25, 1975.

      114.    Manual of Remote Sensing;  R. G. Reeves, Editor-in-chief, Vols. I and II, The               

American Society of Photogrammetry, 1975.

115.          Die Erde neu entdeckt, Farbige satelliten-Fotos;  L. Beckel and S. Schneider, v. Hase &

Koehler Verlag/Mainz Publisher, Germany, 1975.

116.          Geoscience Application of Space Technology, 1975-2000;  P. D. Lowman, Jr., 

GSFC X-922-76-136, January 1976.

117.          The Evolution of Geological Space Photography;  P.  D. Lowman, Jr., in:  Remote

Sensing in Geology, John Wiley Co., Publisher, (Publication expected in 1976)

118.          Manned Earth Science Observations;  E. G. Gibson, The Aerospace Corp., prepared for

Office of Manned Spaceflight, NASA Aerospace Report No.  ATR-76 (7376)-1,

February 1976.

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