NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured a new Earth-Moon image on Jan. 17, 2018, from a distance of 39.5 million miles (63.6 million kilometers). Spacecraft used its NavCam1 imager to take this photo, as part of an engineering test. In the image, The Earth and the moon are just two bright dots against the vastness of black space – which reminds us Carl Sagan’s famous speech: “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”
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It took 27 years, but finally, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft beat Voyager 1’s record for being farthest from Earth while capturing images. Taken on December 5, 2017, New Horizons image of the open star cluster NGC 3532 (also commonly known as the Football Cluster or the Wishing Well Cluster) became the farthest image ever made by any spacecraft, breaking a 27-year record set by Voyager 1. But for a very short time! About 2 hours later, New Horizons broke its own record with images of two Kuiper Belt objects.
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Earth is actually a fragile and isolated rock, a “blue marble” in a vast, cold and hostile space. But only after seeing our planet from space we truly understood that. Seeing the Earth first time from a distance was a powerful experience which has changed the way we see our planet. Here are the top 10 most iconic photos of Earth from space.
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Carl Sagan’s famous quote says “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” In that famous quote, Sagan makes reference to the whole universe started off with hydrogen and helium, all stars produce helium, and then stars over a certain mass threshold produce carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and lots of heavier elements – which are also the source of the life. The star stuff is inside us – every living thing on Earth.
But, even stars aren’t powerful enough to create heavy elements like silver, gold, and cesium. Since the 1950s, scientists have wondered: where do most of the elements in the periodic table come from?
Continue reading LIGO detects gravitational waves from neutron star merger
The Earth is our one and only home. As Carl Sagan said (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space), “On Earth, 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.”.
But will we ever leave our home and visit other stars in the future?
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The farthest spacecraft from Earth, Voyager 1, took a photo of planet Earth in 1990, from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles, 40 AU) from Earth. The photo known as the Pale Blue Dot. In the photograph, Earth is shown as a fraction of a pixel (0.12 pixel in size) against the vastness of space. It was a part of the solar system Family Portrait series of images.
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