The Space Shot that Made History 地球的第一張照片

( 地球村生活美語月刊2015年6月號文章)

The Hubble Space Telescope2 has clearly shown that photos shot from outside Earth’s atmosphere3 can produce amazing images of the universe.  However, the first-ever4 photo taken from space showing our planet5 was shot by a German-made rocket6.  That historic photo made news recently when it went up for auction1



Jess :  Did you know this photo in the newspaper is the first taken of Earth from space?

Dave :  I read that the Hubble Space Telescope recently celebrated its 25th anniversary7.  It has taken some of the most amazing photos of the universe, but one thing it’s not famous for is shooting pictures of Earth.  And that picture is black-and-white, so I’m guessing it was shot by one of those Apollo rockets in the 1970s. 

Jess :  Think even earlier.

Dave :  But Sputnik, the first man-made Earth satellite9, didn’t have a camera.  Nothing produced by humans ever orbited10 Earth before that Russian satellite did in the 1950s.  Unless a later generation of Sputnik took it.

Jess :  This picture wasn’t shot by anything that orbited our planet.  It went up, shot a picture, and came back down.

Dave :  Sounds like a rocket, not a satellite, may have taken that photo.

Jess :  Indeed, and a German rocket of all things. 

Dave :  But Germany never had a space program.

Jess :  The rocket in question was actually a ballistic11 missile12 built by the Nazis. 

Dave :  Wow, I never would have imagined a camera was mounted13 on a missile, all the way back in the 1940s!  But it kind of puts a dent in my enthusiasm2 when I hear you mention the Nazis.

Jess :  If it makes you feel any better, American scientists took the picture.

Dave :  Huh?  Now I’m really confused!


  1.shot (n.)                  [HAt]             照片
  2.telescope (n.)           [`tEl6@skop]     望遠鏡
  3.atmosphere (n.)       [`8tm6s@fIr]     大氣
  4.first-ever (adj.)         [@fRst`Ev2]     第一個
  5.planet (n.)               [`pl8nIt]          行星
  6.rocket (n.)               [`rAkIt]           飛彈;火箭
  7.anniversary (n.)      [@8n6`vRs6rI]   週年紀念
  8.man-made (adj.)      [`m8n@med]    人造的
  9.satellite (n.)             [`s8t4@aIt]      人造衛星
 10.orbit (v.)                 [`OrbIt]           繞軌道運行
      orbit  orbited  orbited
 11.ballistic (adj.)         [b6`lIstIk]     彈道的
 12.missile (n.)             [`mIs4]        飛彈;導彈
 13.mount (v.)             [maUnt]       架置;裝有
      mount  mounted  mounted

Idioms, Phrases, etc.
  1.go up for auction (v. phr.) 拿出來拍賣
2.put a dent in one’s enthusiasm (idiom) 讓熱沈略為減少
Jess :  To tell the truth, it is pretty complicated how all this played out1.  The Germans had superior1 technology when it came to missiles in WWII.  Their V-2 rockets were the first man-made objects to reach beyond Earth’s atmosphere.  That allowed them to travel vast distances from say, Germany to England, unlike anything that the Allies had. 

Dave :  With that kind of technology, how could they have lost the war?

Jess :  Well, they may have had targeting problems that never got solved before the Allies took out Hitler. 

Dave :  Isn’t there some debate whether Hitler actually died or not? 

Jess :  There’s no debating which side won, however, and unused V-2s ended up in American hands after the Nazi surrender2. 

Dave :  So the U.S. mounted a camera on one and it took the picture.  Why was it in the paper now, all these years later?

Jess :  Because of its historic value2.  The photo was auctioned off in London this past March.   The rocket was launched from the White Sands Missile Range3 in New Mexico by the U.S. military on the 24th of October in 1946.  The auctioned item was a print that its sellers claimed4 was the very first photo showing space and the curvature of the Earth3 in the same shot.

Dave :  I’m surprised the camera didn’t get obliterated5, since I’m assuming the rocket was just crumpled6 metal after smashing hard on the desert floor.

Jess :  The rocket indeed could not be used again, and neither could the camera.

Dave :  But that auctioned photo proves the negative7 survived the impact intact8 and was unexposed9 to light.  How much was it auctioned for?

Jess :  It sold for the equivalent10 of US$2,089.

Dave :  Not bad for a grainy11 print that wasn’t shot in color.

Jess :  Living in the age of the Hubble telescope kind of spoils12 us, doesn't it?

  1.superior (adj.)         [s6`pIrI2]     較好的;上等的
  2.surrender (v.)        [s6`rEnd2]    投降
      surrender  surrendered  surrendered
  3.range (n.)               [rendG]        試射場
  4.claim (v.)               [klem]         聲稱
      claim  claimed  claimed
  5.obliterate (v.)         [6`blIt6@ret]      消滅
      obliterate  obliterated  obliterated
  6.crumpled (adj.)       [`krVmpld]        扭曲的
  7.negative (n.)           [`nEg6tIv]         底片
  8.intact (adj.)             [In`t8kt]           完整無缺的
  9.unexpose (v.)          [@VnIk`spoz]    未曝光
      unexpose  unexposed  unexposed
 10.equivalent (adj.)      [I`kwIv6l6nt]     相等的;等值的
 11.grainy (adj.)            [`grenI]            顆粒狀的
 12.spoil (v.)                [spOIl]            寵壞
      spoil  spoiled  spoiled


Idioms, Phrases, etc.
  1.  play out (idiom) 進行到底
  2.  historic value (n. phr.) 歷史重要性

  3.  curvature of the Earth (n. phr.) 地球的弧線

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