Would you look at that speck of dust. Earth from 3.7 billion miles away. Whenever I feel the weight of personal life and life in general weighing me down I have taken to looking at the above image taken by mankind’s first deep space probe, Voyager-1, just before leaving our solar system on an even deeper and darker and now aimless exploratory mission into the darkest and coldest expanse of space … and Earth seems rather less unique and more ridiculous and full of itself. And even in deciding to take this hauntingly spectacular photograph the team of human scientists (male and female) involved in the Voyager-1 and Voyager-2 missions were in heated disagreement, mostly as to the actual value in repositioning the spacecraft and its camera to look behind at the distance it had come all those years as it pumped back volumes of data, photographs and knowledge to its creators on Earth. Some on the team did not think it was worth the time and effort. How not?
You could weep in awe, were your breath not swept away by the vast vacuum of space waiting behind the gallant mechanical space voyager snapping one last picture for mankind’s pleasure and pride at such an accomplishment they had been a part of.
How could taking such a photograph of our solar system from a vantage point of no return that we had never seen before, and some may never see again in our lifetimes, not hold priceless worth to these minds that had enough vision to see this machine travel this distance and do so much in a relatively short amount of time, relative to the universe’s timeline? Well, in one scientist’s lifetime, at least. Carl Sagan passed away before he could see the spacecraft Cassini in 2006 snap a photo of Saturn, with Earth faintly photobombing in the background by peeping through the planet’s rings…
Carl Sagan was one of the Voyager-1 team voices that pushed for the photograph to be taken, and he was not disappointed in what Voyager had sent back for the scientists to discover for themselves.
Sagan argues that it wasn’t for scientific interest, but instead, it was taken for us.
Look again at 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. 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.
In fact, there’s more to the Pale Blue Dot than just the single image. It was one of sixty photos Voyager-1 was instructed to take which altogether make up a photo collage known as the “Family Photo” or sometimes referred to as Portrait of the Planets.
In the final image all the planets apart from Mercury and Mars can be seen in their respective positions. Because Voyager-1 was 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane of the solar system it was able to capture our family portrait…
Our planet, out of all 9+ planets sharing this star we call ‘The Sun’, is the only planet with animals, plants, and superior beings, and it is all we have.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) August 21, 2018
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) August 20, 2018
— Ricky Arnold (@astro_ricky) August 22, 2018