News "Pale Blue Dot": Famous NASA image of the earth...

“Pale Blue Dot”: Famous NASA image of the earth turns 30


  • ofTanja Banner


“Pale Blue Dot”, one of the most famous NASA images from space, turns 30. On Valentine’s Day 1990, the space probe “Voyager 1” photographed the Earth.

  • The picture “Pale Blue Dot” show the earth from a distance of six billion kilometers
  • It was taken up by the Voyager 1 spacecraft at the Valentine’s Day 1990
  • On February 14, 2020 the famous image 30 years old

From the space is considered earth a fragile, mostly blue ball that hovers in the black, hostile to nothing. This was initially posed by the astronauts of the “Apollo 8” mission of the US space organization NASA when they were the first people to circle the moon at Christmas 1968 – and suddenly saw the earth rise behind the moon. The image “Earthrise” *, which captured this moment, contributed to the emergence of the global environmental movement.

A second picture, which shows even more clearly how small the earth and mankind actually are, will be 30 years old on February 14, 2020: “Pale Blue Dot” (“Pale blue dot”). In contrast to “Earthrise”, which shows the planet Earth in all its beauty and in stark contrast to the hostile moon, hardly anything can be seen on Earth on “Pale Blue Dot” – and it was not taken by humans either.

Image “Pale Blue Dot” shows the Earth – taken by space probe “Voyager 1”

One of the most famous pictures in history: “Earthrise”, taken by the astronauts of “Apollo 8” who orbited the moon at Christmas 1968.

© Nasa

The spacecraft “Voyager 1”, who set off in 1977 to explore the outer planetary system, looked back to Earth from a distance of about six billion kilometers – and photographed the home planet of mankind on Valentine’s Day 1990, However, you can hardly see the earth in the picture: If you look closely, you will see a small, bright point in the right third of the picture, only about 0.12 pixels in size. The stripes that run through the picture are, according to the NASA Artifacts from the camera caused by sunlight.

The camera was not designed to take photos in the direction of the sun and the picture was actually not planned. Carl Sagan, a US astronomer who worked on the imaging team of the “Voyager” mission in 1990, had the idea of ​​turning “Voyager 1” to earth one last time and taking the farewell photo.

“Pale Blue Dot”: US astronomer Carl Sagen finds suitable words for the image of the earth

In his book “Pale Blue Dot” In 1994 Sagan found the right – now famous – words for the breathtaking picture: “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. “(” Look again to the point. This is here. This is at home. This is us everyone who you love, everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever heard of, every person who ever existed lived his life for him. “)

Carl Sagan unveils the Pale Blue Dot, 1990 from The Planetary Society on Vimeo,

When presenting the “Pale Blue Dot” image, US astronomer Carl Sagan explained: “This perspective underlines our responsibility to maintain and appreciate this blue dot. It is the only home we have ”. On the 25th anniversary of the “Pale Blue Dot” recording, Nasa employee Ed Stone said that the picture always “astonishes the place we call home”.

“Voyager 1” makes “family portraits” of the solar system – one of the pictures is “Pale Blue Dot”

“Pale Blue Dot” is part of a series of 60 pictures, showing a total of six of the (then) nine planet to see are: Jupiter, Earth, Venus, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, as well as the sun. The planets Mercury and Pluto (which has not been a planet since 2006) were too small to be from “Voyager 1”Camera to be captured. Mars was too close to the sun and its light outshone it.

After “Voyager 1” the “Family portraits” had sent our solar system to Earth, the camera systems were deactivated and the probe continued on its way to the edge of the solar system. In August 2012 “Voyager 1” was the first human-made object to reach interstellar space*, the Sister probe “Voyager 2” followed in November 2018*. Even today, both space probes still send data to Earth. “Voyager 1” is about 22.2 billion kilometers from Earth, “Voyager 2” has brought about 18.5 billion kilometers between itself and Earth.

Bird’s eye view: When viewed from space, the borders of the earth disappear

Images showing the Earth from space are currently mainly provided by satellites and the astronauts who live and work on board the ISS. And already in her pictures – shot from a height of around 400 kilometers – one thing is clear: viewed from above, the borders, which so often cause conflicts and wars on Earth, disappear.

All astronauts returning to Earth emphasize how worth protecting our blue planet. Obviously, humanity needs a view from above to recognize that. Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell put it this way after circling the moon in 1968: “People often say that hopefully they will go to heaven when they die. In fact, it is like this: You go to heaven when you are born ”.

By Tanja Banner

* is part of the nationwide Ippen-Digital central editorial office.


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