The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

Earth From Different Perspectives

In the grand scheme of things, it has not been that long that we have been able to take images of Earth from space.  We are all used to the satellite images that are used in our local newscasts.  However, NASA always seems to be trying to find a new way to look at our home planet.

Today we got our first look at Earth from a position close to the Sun courtesy of the MESSENGER spacecraft.  MESSENGER is currently orbiting the Sun and will go into orbit around Mercury next March. On May 6th, MESSENGER turned around and looked outward toward Earth.

You can clearly see the Earth and the Moon.  I find it interesting that they look so close together even though the Moon is about 30 Earth diameters away.  Earth and the Moon may have saturated the detector making each of them appear much larger in the image.

Another classic image of Earth is the Pale Blue Dot taken by Voyager 1 in 1990.  Voyager 1 was a little past the orbit of Pluto at the time.

Earth appears close to the Sun when viewed from that distance.  The strips are from Sunlight scattered in the optics of the camera.  If you are having trouble finding Earth, look about halfway down the stripe on the right.

One of my personal favorite images of all time was captured by the Cassini spacecraft as it passed behind Saturn.  With the Sun covered by Saturn, Earth you can see Earth poking through the rings.  Click that one to embiggen…it deserves it!

Finally, no collection of this type of image would be complete without Earthrise taken by Apollo 8 in 1968.

Each of these unique images gives us a little more perspective on our place in the universe.  I would love to see the day when we get our first image of the Sun from another star system…would take us out to a whole new level.


August 18, 2010 - Posted by | NASA, Solar System

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