The Pale Blue Dot

One more blog entry about Carl Sagan, or more precisely, the “Pale Blue Dot”.

The Pale Blue Dot - Image courtesy of NASAThe image on the left is the original “Pale Blue Dot” taken in 1990 by Voyager 1 as it headed out of the Solar System after its encounter with Saturn. NASA took this image in response to a request by Carl Sagan. It’s difficult to see the dot of Earth embedded in the ring of Saturn, but if you follow this link it is visible in the band on the right.

The image below on the left shows the Earth again from the vantage point of Saturn, this time taken by Cassini in 2006.  Lastly, the image on the right shows our home planet and moon as seen from Mars.  This image was taken by the Mars Global Surveyor in May of 2003.

Earth from Cassini - Image courtesy of NASAEarth from Mars - Image courtesy of NASA

The images are not all that impressive by themselves until you step back and realize just what you are looking at.  These are portraits of us—all of us—every human being, animal and plant living on this planet.  Everything that ever lived and died is contained on this blue orb.  We look a lot more fragile from these vantage points then we do when we go through our daily activities, don’t we?

With the recent anniversary of 9-11, it becomes more poignant, to me at least, that this is all we have.  There is no place we can go if things go from bad to worse here, be it global warming, asteroid impact, war or any of a hundred other things that could make Earth inhospitable.  We have no choice for long term survival but to work with each other to make it together on this “Pale Blue Dot”.  United, we can accomplish more for everyone than we can divided, at odds with each other, and the environment.

I think that this is the point Carl Sagan was trying to make with this beautifully simple image of our home planet.

Till next time,

RC Davison

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