July 4, 2023

Recreating the Earthrise: Relive Apollo 8's Awe-Inspiring Moment with Nominal Editor

On December 24th, 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders embarked on a mission aboard Apollo 8, set to be the first to orbit the moon.

At 3:30 PM UTC, Apollo 8 emerged from the Moon's dark side for the fourth time. Borman, the mission commander, prepared to maneuver the spacecraft while Lovell aimed to capture lunar landmarks using a sextant. Anders, positioned in the right-hand seat, observed the Moon through his side window, armed with a camera fitted with a powerful telephoto lens. Borman was still adjusting Apollo 8's orientation when something breathtaking occurred.

As the spacecraft’s roll maneuver was initiated, the astronauts' voices, recorded on Apollo 8's onboard tape recorder, fill the air. Suddenly, Anders exclaims in awe, directing everyone's attention to the rising Earth, which appears remarkably stunning.

Anders: “Oh my God, look at that picture over there! There's the Earth comin' up. Wow, is that pretty!”

Borman warns against photographing the Earthrise since it wasn't scheduled. But the irresistible beauty of the sight compels Anders to urgently request a roll of colour film from Lovell, who is quick to oblige. They scramble to capture this precious moment, with Lovell frantically searching for the requested roll of colour film. The urgency rises, and they exchange words, desperately trying to ensure the perfect shot.

For the astronauts of Apollo 8, the Earthrise was an unexpected and electrifying experience. The photograph taken by Anders became an iconic image of the 20th century, forever etched in the annals of human exploration.

Nominal Editor, the Digital Twin product developed by Nominal Systems, now allows us to delve even deeper into the events of that momentous day and experience a virtual representation of the awe-inspiring views witnessed from inside the Apollo 8 capsule. With its advanced capabilities, Nominal Editor reconstructs the precise orientation and position of Apollo 8 during the Earthrise and paints a vivid picture of what the astronauts might have seen through their windows, as they gazed upon the breathtaking sight of our home planet emerging from the lunar horizon.

Nominal Editor can be used for in-orbit inspections and image observation simulations. Using the power of the Unreal Engine, exact camera configurations can be designed and parameters including the exposure, bloom and light curves can be tweaked to match the realistic payloads being used.

Nominal Editor transports us back in time, allowing us to stand in the shoes of the Apollo 8 crew and peer out into the vast expanse of space. The recreated scenes, based on scientific data and historic records, offer a truly immersive experience, capturing the essence of that exhilarating moment when the Earthrise captured the hearts and imaginations of people around the world.