Pale Blue Dot
Date: 14 Feb 1990
This narrow-angle color image of the Earth s a part of the first ever "portrait" of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic of the solar system from a distance of more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic.
From Voyager's great distance Earth is a mere point of light, less than the size of a picture element even in the narrow-angle camera. Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.
Coincidentally, Earth lies right in the center of one of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the sun. This blown-up image of the Earth was taken through three color filters -- violet, blue and green -- and recombined to produce the color image. The background features in the image are artifacts resulting from the magnification.
This image inspired the title of Carl Sagan's 1994 book, "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space."
"Look again at that dot," Sagan wrote in his book "Pale Blue 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. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar,' every 'supreme leader,' every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there -- on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam." -Carl Sagan, "Pale Blue Dot," 1994
What Scientists/Engineers Say About This Image:
"This image shows the Earth as a unique place, a single entity, not divided by countries or property lines. The Pale Blue Dot image makes our problems and horror stories seem quite petty."
--Paolo Bellutta, Machine Vision Group, Mars Exploration Rover Driver, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
"Voyager's exploration of the outer solar system is definitely significant in my opinion ... And then of course turning and looking back at the Earth in the classic Carl Sagan "Blue Dot" picture."
--Fran Bagenal: Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder and Co-Investigator for the New Horizons Mission
(Read More of what Fran Bagenal has to say about this and other significant events by clicking here.)
Last Update: 6 Mar 2012 (AMB)