‘Pale blue dot’ image from Voyager 1 marks 30th birthday

Space Science
Pale Blue Dot NASA-JPL

This updated version of the iconic “Pale Blue Dot” image taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft uses modern image-processing software and techniques to revisit the well-known Voyager view while attempting to respect the original data and intent of those who planned the images. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

MYSTERY WIRE — Voyager 1 snapped one of history’s most famous photos 30 years ago today. To mark the occasion, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, released a new version.

It’s a “family portrait” of the solar system that came to identify Earth as “the pale blue dot.” Those words were from Carl Sagan’s 1994 book, “The Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.” Sagan served on the imaging team for Voyager.

The original Feb. 14, 1990, photo captures Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Earth in the frame — actually, a mosaic of 60 frames. The three planets that don’t show up:

  • Mars was too dark
  • Mercury was too close to the sun
  • Pluto was too dim

The vertical bands of light in the photo were camera artifacts, a result of pointing the camera so close to the sun. NASA.com describes them as a “happy coincidence” that enhance the photo’s focus on Earth.

See NASA’s coverage:
‘Pale Blue Dot’ Revisited
The original: Solar system portrait – Earth as ‘pale blue dot’
10 things you might not know about Voyager’s famous ‘pale blue dot’ photo
Earth poster – Version G – the pale blue dot (download your own poster)

Also:
A look back at the photo’s 25-year anniversary on Space.com:
Happy Birthday, ‘Pale Blue Dot!’ Famous Space Photo Turns 25

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