Iconic 'Pale Blue Dot' Photo of Earth and 5 Planets is 25 Years Old
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the iconic Earth photo, "The Pale Blue Dot", taken on February 14, 1990 by Voyager 1.
The spacecraft took a family portrait of our solar system that includes Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Earth that became famous as the "Pale Blue Dot" photo.
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This famous image still continues to inspire wonder about this small spot in space that humans call home, according to Voyager mission scientist, Ed Stone from the California Institute of Technology.
The late astronomer Carl Sagan used this photo and referenced it in his 1994 book titled, "The Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space". Sagan was a part of the Voyager imaging team when this photograph was taken.
The photo was captured by Voyager 1 from a distance of 40 astronomical units from Earth where one astronomical unit is equal to the distance of the Earth from the sun which is about 93 million miles.
Voyager 1, however, wasn't able to capture three of the nine planets of the solar system. Mars was too dark; Mercury was located too close to the Sun while Pluto was too dim and foggy.
NASA's twin space probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, were launched just a few weeks apart in 1977. The mission of these legendary spacecraft was to focus on the planets of the solar system.
The probes gave scientists, astronomers and researchers their first unprecedented look of Jupiter, Saturn (along with their moons), Uranus and Neptune.
The probes are still journeying into deep space. Voyager 1 became the first man-made object to reach interstellar space in August 2012. Voyager 2 has taken a different path but will also begin traversing deep space soon.
The series of photographs taken by Voyager 1 that includes the Pale Blue Dot portrait of our planet was the last ever photo the space probe took before mission control turned off its camera.
Voyager 1 is now 130 astronomical units away from Earth. If the probe attempts to take a photo of the Earth now, the planet will appear 10 times dimmer compared to the February 1990 photo, says NASA.