The Pale Blue Dot

Understanding our Place in the Universe

What is the Pale Blue Dot

The pale blue dot is the photograph of planet Earth taken by the Voyager 1 space probe from a distance of 6 billion kilometres on February 14, 1990. If you look carefully at the photograph you can see Earth as a tiny dot in the vastness of space suspended on a beam of sunlight.

The Voyager Mission consisted of two identical space probes, Voyager 1 & Voyager 2, which were launched in 1977 by NASA. Their original mission was to study the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn along with their moons. Voyager 2 was later assigned to study Uranus and Neptune as well, once its primary mission objectives were achieved.

What was the Voyager Mission?

Jupiter

Picture Taken by the Voyager Spacecrafts

Jupiter

Jupiter's moon Callisto

Saturn

Saturn's moon Enceladus

Uranus

Neptune

The Pale Blue Dot

Earth

How was the Picture Taken?

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan, the noted astronomer proposed an idea to take one last picture of the Earth before Voyager 1 closed its eyes forever. The Pale Blue Dot picture was taken at 0448 GMT on February 14, 1990; just 34 minutes before the commands to shut down its cameras were transmitted.

In his book: Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, he wrote

  Consider again 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. 

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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...

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...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.

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