Looking back as it zooms through interplanetary space, less than a month into its 445-million mile, five-year journey to the gas giant Jupiter, NASA's spacecraft Juno captured a portrait of the Earth and moon.
It might not look like much, but that larger white dot is the Earth and the smaller dot to the right is the moon. Juno was 6 million miles away at the time.
"This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "This view of our planet shows how Earth looks from the outside, illustrating a special perspective of our role and place in the universe. We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves."
It's hard not to be reminded of Carl Sagan's poignant "Pale Blue Dot" quote after the Voyager 1 probe skewed around in 1990 to see the dot of our planet, swamped in the depths of the Cosmos.
But for me personally, it's a reminder of the opening passage of a tune by one of my favorite bands:Somewhere out there in the vast nothingness of space,
Somewhere far away in space and time,
Staring upward at the gleaming stars in the obsidian sky,
We’re marooned on a small island, in an endless sea
Confined to a tiny spit of sand, unable to escape,
But tonight, on this small planet, on earth
We’re going to rock civilization...
– Lyrics from "Prelude/Slam," Pendulum
It's when I see photos like this, everything instantly snaps into perspective. To paraphrase Sagan, everything we've ever known and loved exists on that small dot. Everything.
Isn't it about time we venture off this tiny spit of sand? There's a lot of galaxy out there for us to explore...
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech