Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pale Blue Dot - Voyager and the Family Portrait

You've probably heard it before - the famous expression used by Carl Sagan (oh, how I miss the time I spend glued to the tv screen watching his Cosmos TV program) to describe our planet as seen from the edges of our solar system: a pale blue dot.

This is the photo that Carl Sagan referred to when he said that, the photo that inspired him to write the book with the same name: Pale Blue Dot.
This photo was taken by Voyager 1, in 1990, when it was over 6 billion kilometers from Earth. Our planet is that small tiny dot in the middle of the screen (according to Nasa our planet takes just about  12% of the size of a single pixel.)

When Voyager had completed all its mission objectives, it turned back to our own solar system and took these amazing photos - and idea by Carl Sagan himself.

But, it wasn't just Earth that Voyager photographed from that amazing distance, the same thing was done to all other planets originating a composite photo of our solar system known as "family portrait."

In spite of its weird look (due to the different exposure and filters used to maximize each shot) this composite offers an unique - and unmatched - view of how it feels to look to our solar system from the "outside."

I don't know how it makes you feel, but... realizing we're all living in a single speck of dust in this vast Universe... really makes us think twice about those "big problems" everyone thinks they have. Doesn't it?

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