Pale Blue Dot mystery: Image of blue speck taken from deep space | Science | News

Yet this photograph fundamentally changed humanity’s view of itself – because the so-called ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is in fact planet Earth seen from FOUR BILLION miles away.

The mind-blowing pic was the idea of scientist Carl Sagan who pressed to turn around the Voyager I spacecraft as it sped at 35,700mph (62,000kmh) to the very edge of our solar system.

Sagan believed the resulting photograph would put wars, conflict and humanity’s troubles into cosmic perspective by showing just how tiny and fragile the planet we share is.


The mysterious blue dot is a tiny speck in the vast emptiness of space

Now, as Voyager I is properly beyond the solar system and out in interstellar there are renewed calls in many online space forums for the experiment to be repeated.

Voyager I is closer to 14 billion miles away from Earth today – effectively beyond the gravitational influence of the sun. Incredibly the satellite, launched in 1977, will fly by the next NEAREST star in 40,000 years.

The Sagan-inspired image of Earth as a speck less than 0.12 pixels in size, has become known as “the pale blue dot”.

He said: “Everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”


The Pale Blue Dot is in fact planet Earth, photographed some 4 billion miles away in space

Candy Hansen, a planetary scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who worked on the Voyager imaging team alongside Sagan added: “I was struck by how special Earth was, as I saw it shining in a ray of sunlight.

“It also made me think about how vulnerable our tiny planet is.”

The NASA spacecraft had already captured many incredible images of planets within the Solar System but as power continued to fall the Voyager team needed to disable its camera so it would have the power it needed to keep transmitting back to NASA.

NASA researcher Candice Hansen-Koharcheck said: “You know, I still get chills down my back because here was our planet, bathed in this ray of light, and it just looked incredibly special.”



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