|"The Blue Marble"
Photo taken aboard Apollo 17 on December 7,
1972 the same day Cindy was born
On December 7, 1972 Apollo 17 was launched
from Cape Kennedy. This would be the final
manned mission in the American Apollo space
program, the last manned mission to land on the
moon and the last time a human was beyond low
earth orbit. This photo which shows a fully
illuminated earth was taken 5 hours and 6
minutes after launch. No human since has been
to such a distance that would allow a whole-Earth
photograph such as what has been dubbed “The
It was also on this Thursday that my little baby
sister, Cindy Ann Deuel, was born at a hospital in
Warwick, New York. This is exactly how the earth
looked the very day Cindy came into the world.
On this tenth anniversary, I want to remember her
birth, not her death. Under the Apollo space
program, the entire world watched as we
successfully landed a man on the moon in 1969.
For a brief moment in time, we were united as
one people, as all of our differences faded away
as we accomplished this unimaginable feat.
The Blue Marble expressly shows the
vulnerability of the human race. In an instant, this
beautiful place we call home, could meet the fate
of the dinosaurs. We will either end up self
destructing or an earthbound object is going to
do the job. Sadly it seems the message in this
photo has been lost over time. The moon
missions and now the shuttle missions have
come to end. The incessant wars and
government sponsored terrorism has not.
Cindy’s favorite magazine was Astronomy.
When asked what her ideal job would be, she
answered the following, “No job, but to sit around
all day and play with math, history and science...”
Cindy dreamed big. She was fascinated by
interstellar travel, as represented in the movie
Contact. She could dish out a wicked argument
supporting the idea that one day we will travel
faster than the speed of light. In 2003 my brother
honored Cindy by having her name sent to Mars
on the Mars Exploration Rovers. DVDs bearing
her name are now on Mars at Gusev Crater
(Spirit) and at Meridiani Planum (Opportunity).
Today Cindy would’ve been 38. On December
7th, 1972 a fragile and vulnerable baby girl was
born onto a fragile and vulnerable little blue
marble. It has been 38 years since we’ve been
to the moon. In that time the earth has cried out
in pain, as we’ve blasted our bombs, polluted its
water, and murdered its people. We need a
military free zone: PLANET EARTH.
I’ve decided to go out tomorrow and buy blue
marbles in Cindy’s name. I am going to share
Cindy’s story with someone who doesn’t know. I
am going to give them a blue marble and ask
them to think of all the possible futures that
existed the day that Cindy was born. 9/11 wasn’t
destined to happen. We let it. Let’s not let it
happen again. Get to know your neighbor. Don’t
be afraid. Take care of your marble and the one
beneath your feet. Make friends and share your
marbles with the world and soon we will be
traveling freely in space. Dream that one day we
will travel to and peacefully coexist with all the
other marbles in the night sky. If Cindy had lived,
she would have seen to it. Now we can follow her
trail of star dust from birth, to infinity and beyond.
Richard Anthony Deuel
September 11, 2011