I was pondering anniversaries this morning, my 65th on Earth on the 23rd, 40 years in the environmental and sustainability fields this year, 20 years of the triple bottom line this year, and it occurred to me to wonder when Gaia – or life on Earth – first managed to take a ‘selfie,’ as we now seem to call photographic self-portraits?
I had been thinking of the NASA Gemini or Apollo missions, whose images I recall being wonderfully inspired by.
So I dug around a bit – and found that it had happened considerably sooner than I had thought, indeed before I was born, in 1946. Scientists used a V2 rocket fired from the White Sands Missile Range to take a series of far-from-full-Earth photographs, but exciting, nonetheless. The image shown came from a camera on V-2 #13, launched on October 24, 1946. (Photo: White Sands Missile Range/Applied Physics Laboratory)
If being able to see yourself as others see you is a key step in self-actualisation, this was in important moment for all of us. That said, we still have a long, long way to go. But then perhaps the multi-millionaires and billionaires who, one day, will be rocketed into space in vehicles operated by the likes to Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will come back transformed, in the same way many astronauts would be.