President John F. Kennedy spelled out the mission clearly in his 1961 speech committing the United States to send humans to the moon and back by the end of the decade. He left no doubt about the definition of success and laid out a clear vision.

Now, five decades after his challenge, a panel of space, science and engineering experts said in a stinging report that NASA does not have a goal.

While the future of the space agency may be unclear, its past missions produced some iconic images that gave us all a view of the world that makes it seems not quite so big, including newly released photos that include city lights at night.

Here’s an Associated Press photo gallery with some of the NASA images of the planet

NASA - Earth at night
This NASA image from a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012 shows the United States at night The image was made possible by the new satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires, and reflected moonlight. (AP Photo/NASA)
NASA - Earth at Night
In this image from Sept. 24, 2012 provided by NASA, the Korean Peninsula is seen at night from a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite. The image was made possible by the new satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires, and reflected moonlight. City lights at night are a fairly reliable indicator of where people live. But this isn’t always the case, and the Korean Peninsula shows why. As of July 2012, South Korea’s population was estimated at roughly 49 million people, and North Korea’s population was estimated at about half that number. But where South Korea is gleaming with city lights, North Korea has hardly any lights at all, just a faint glimmer around Pyongyang. The wide-area image shows the Korean Peninsula, parts of China and Japan, the Yellow Sea, and the Sea of Japan. The white inset box encloses an area showing ship lights in the Yellow Sea. Many of the ships form a line, as if assembling along a watery border. (AP Photo/NASA)
NASA - Earth at night
In this image from Oct. 13, 2012 provided by NASA, the Nile River valley and delta is seen at night from a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite. The image was made possible by the new satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires, and reflected moonlight. The Nile River Valley and Delta comprise less than 5 percent of Egypt’s land area, but provide a home to roughly 97 percent of the country’s population. Nothing makes the location of human population clearer than the lights illuminating the valley and delta at night. The city lights resemble a giant calla lily, just one with a kink in its stem near the city of Luxor. Some of the brightest lights occur around Cairo, but lights are abundant along the length of the river. Bright city lights also occur along the Suez Canal and around Tel Aviv. Away from the lights, however, land and water appear uniformly black. This image was acquired near the time of the new Moon, and little moonlight was available to brighten land and water surfaces. (AP Photo/NASA)

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