Space Photos of the Week: Earth Looks Peaceful From Up Here

Last week we went into deep space to get some perspective on the vastness of the cosmos; this week we are going to linger close to home and admire the Earth. We’ll start with an iconic photograph known as The Pale Blue Dot. After Voyager 1 completed its mission and was on its way out of the solar system, it turned to look back on Valentine’s Day 1990. The scientist Carl Sagan who worked on the Voyager team, said of the photo, “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.”

Humans saw the Earth from space for the first time in 1946 from a V-2 rocket, and subsequent images of the planet can make people feel a little, well, protective. The second image below is called Earthrise—our little orb hovering in the dark void of space—and it is credited with starting the environmental movement. Gotta take care of what we have, after all.

“Suspended in a sunbeam” is planet Earth, a speck of white glimmering there in the rightmost band of sunlight, about half-way down the image. A mote in the universe that’s home to worms, whales, mountains, and …. us.Photograph: NASA/JPL
Each of NASA’s Apollo missions had a shot list of photos to take, but this image, Earthrise, was not one of them. Astronaut Bill Anders snapped this bonus photo on Christmas Eve 1968, and it ultimately became one of our planet’s best beauty shots. We are used to seeing the moon rise, wax, and wane; to see our planet in that role gave humans a new perspective.Photograph: Bill Anders/NASA
On July 13, 1993, from 898 million miles away, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took this stunning image of Saturn’s rings backlit by the sun. That small shiny dot to the right? That’s us!Photograph: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
The astronauts on board the International Space Station get overlord views of the Earth every day. In this photo, you can see the curvature of the planet; that green line is the northern lights from above.Photograph: NASA
When NASA’s Galileo spacecraft was en route to Jupiter, it circled around the Earth first in order to slingshot out into space. When it did, captured this stunning view of Earth and our Moon in partial shadow.Photograph: NASA/JPL
And now… other Earths! Kinda. This computer simulated image shows the planetary system around a star called TRAPPIST-1. At just about the size of Jupiter, this star is very small, but even smaller are its very cozy seven planets, some of which may even be able to support life.Illustration: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Once you’re done, head over here to look at more space photos.

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