The ‘Pale Blue Dot’: On its 30th anniversary, why it's important to stare back at ourselves
In 1990, a spacecraft headed into the unknown took one last look at our home planet, capturing a view of a lonely Earth in its empty surroundings.
Thirty years later, NASA released an updated version of the image and reminded Earthlings why it’s important to take another look at ourselves and where we stand in the universe. As climate change threatens the only world we’ve known, the ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is relevant to our fragile existence today.
On February 14, 1990, Voyager 1 snapped a picture of Earth from 3.7 billion miles away minutes before the probe’s cameras were turned off in order to conserve power. The Voyager mission launched in 1977, with two twin spacecraft designed to cross into interstellar space and peer at the Solar System from the outside.
Amazingly enough, the Voyager twins are still operational until today, beaming down crucial data on the border that separates us from the rest of the cosmos.
But this image was never on the Voyager’s agenda.
Candice Hansen, a planetary scientist at NASA who was part of the team behind the original image, tells Inverse she was also one of the people who asked for the photo to be taken:
Hansen, along with astrophysicist Carl Sagan who wrote a book inspired by the image titled A Pale Blue Dot, kept asking for the image of Earth until Voyager 1 was coming up on its encounter with Neptune when they secured extra funding for the additional resources.
And the result was ...
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