On December 7th in 1972, far far above our heads, Apollo 17 blasted off from the Earth on its way to the Moon. About five hours into the journey, the spaceship was 45,000 kilometres away and at the point where it was facing the Earth, the astronauts onboard took photos of our planet. One of those photos (AS17-148-22727) which showed a fully-illuminated Earth looked like a glass marble to the astronauts, and is famously called The Blue Marble.
NASA has continued The Blue Marble series with similar photos in 2000, 2002, 2007, 2010, and the two most recent images date from just a few days ago. The initial image was captured by the Earth-observing satellite Suomi NPP and focussed on North and Central America. Due to popular demand NASA released a second image, this time displaying Africa, Saudi Arabia, and India to the east. Have a look at these two amazing images after the jump.
Western Hemisphere (Flickr)
Eastern Hemisphere (Flickr)
And here are some of the previous Blue Marble images.