Photo-Mosaic, Aerobee

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This original photomontage is believed to be the first high-altitude color image of the Earth's surface showing a tropical storm. On October 5, 1954 the Naval Research Laboratory launched an Aerobee-Hi rocket at the White Sands Proving Grounds that included two 16 mm movie cameras in its payload, one with black & white film, and the second with color film. After the spinning rocket reached its maximum altitude of 100 miles it tipped over to the horizontal position. The cameras thus captured images of the earth as it swept by below. The color film camera exposed frames at a rate of 6 images per second with an exposure of 1/500 second at F/3.5 behind a Wratten 2B (blue haze) filter. Individual frames of the recovered color film were then enlarged. An NRL scientist, Otto E. Berg, fitted together 117 of those to build this mosaic that depicts over one million square miles of the southwestern United States. The picture clearly reveals a large whirlpool of cloud left over from a tropical storm. The montage was transferred from NRL to NASM in 1962.