News   /   Society

Time to ponder our tiny globe in space from a distant vantage point

The Earth, appeared as a pale blue dot in a picture taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990, takes up only 0.12 of a pixel, compared to 640,000 individual pixels that composed the whole picture. (NASA)

Twenty-six years ago today, when the Voyager 1 space probe was 6 billion kilometers away from the Earth, late American astronomer Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn the probe’s camera towards our planet and take an image of our cosmic home from a distant vantage point. The Earth appeared in the image as a pale blue dot, less than a pixel, and engulfed among bands of sunlight scattered by the camera's optics. The image also inspired Sagan to write a heartfelt passage about our tiny dot against the immensity of space.  

The Voyager 1 was launched on September 5, 1977, primarily to study the outer Solar System. Dashing at the speed of 64,000 kilometers per hour (40,000 miles per hour), the probe went on a new mission to investigate the boundaries of the Solar System.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft

On February 14, 1990, when Voyager 1 received orders from its headquarters on Earth to take a picture from the planet, it was precisely 6,054,587,000 kilometers (3,762,146,000 miles) away from home, almost a billion and a half kilometers from Pluto.

Four years later, in his 1994 book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, Sagan elaborated on our infinitesimal pixel in cosmos. He wrote “the Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.”

American astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996)


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku