‘Pale Blue Dot’ turns 30! How iconic image taken by NASA’s Voyager 1 showed Earth in new light

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Published: February 14, 2020 10:12:22 PM

It is known as an iconic picture as it was the last one taken by the Voyager 1 before its cameras were turned off in order to save power.

Pale Blue Dot, NASA, NASA Voyager 1, Earth, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA Voyager, Candy Hansen, Carl Sagan, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, Solar system, Voyager, Voyager Spacecraft, Voyager 1 spacecraft, Solar system, It is known as an iconic picture as it was the last one taken by the Voyager 1 before its cameras were turned off in order to save power. (Courtesy: Twitter / NASA)

After 30 years of the Earth’s image being taken by Voyager 1, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has updated the image ‘Pale Blue Dot’ and re-released it. The image was taken on February 14 in 1990 by NASA’s Voyager 1 probe from 3.7 billion miles away from Earth. The image is symbolic as it portrays the Earth’s actual image in the vast cosmos. It is known as an iconic picture as it was the last one taken by the Voyager 1 before its cameras were turned off in order to save power. According to a report by Space.com, planetary scientist Candy Hansen was the first one to discover this picture of tiny Earth.

The report further stated that ‘Pale Blue Dot’ was first ideated by astronomer, science communicator and Voyager imaging team member Carl Sagan who had proposed to take the picture of Earth in 1981.

Looking back

Voyager 1 was launched a few weeks after Voyager 2 was launched in 1977. According to the report, these two probes conducted a “grand tour” of giant planets like Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Saturn in our solar system. After the probes toured Neptune, both the spacecraft kept on flying. Mission members back on Earth decided that there would not be anything special to see beyond Neptune and thus, they decided to turn off the cameras as the journey was long. Before the cameras were shut, Voyager 1 took 60 photos of the solar system, now known as the“family portrait” series.

The images had come to Earth by May 1990. The report cited Hansen and said that it was terrifying for her that the dot was so small that the scientists were worried that they must have missed taking the picture.

And the journey continues

After crossing Neptune, both Voyagers kept flying and entered the outer space. Eventually, they got off the sun’s sphere and went into interstellar space. They both are still out and are expected to have enough power that will help them gather data and continue their journey till 2024, the report said.

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