There’s nothing quite like an image of Earth from outer space to put things into perspective. That was certainly the case when humans were able to see an image of the whole Earth from the moon for the first time in the Earthrise photograph, captured on December 24, 1968. That image has often been credited for helping to kickstart the environmental movement back on Earth, as we were able to see just how amazing and fragile our planet really is. It gave people a whole new perspective on our place in the universe, and how we should take better care of it.
Now, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured this amazing image of Earth from nearly 900 million miles (1.45 billion kilometers) away. Our planet appears as a bright blue dot in the distance. This is only the third time an image has been captured of Earth from so far away. Another NASA spacecraft, Voyager 1, captured the most famous Pale Blue Dot image 23 years ago. It was taken at a distance of about 4 billion miles away from Earth. From that distance, Earth really did appear as just a pale blue dot in the very far distance. Astonishingly, Voyager 1 is still in operation, and is now verging on leaving the our solar system.
Do you think it’s important for us humans to be able to capture images of our place in the universe like this, and to explore the far reaches of our solar system?
Cassini image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.