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5 Views of Earth That Will Blow Your Mind

5 Views of Earth That Will Blow Your Mind

Did you stand outside on July 19 and wave to the sky? If you didn’t, you missed your chance to get your picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft, which is currently hurtling around Saturn. The image captured by Cassini offers a stunning view of both Saturn and the Earth — although, admittedly, one is slightly more prominent than the other.

According to Carolyn Porco, leader of Cassini’s imaging team, “This will be a moment of global cosmic self-awareness, when everyone can pause at the same time and consider our beautiful, tiny planet floating through the never-ending blackness of space.” She continues, “Even though the whole Earth won’t be in sunlight, everybody on the planet will still be in this photo.”

This certainly isn’t the first photo of Earth. In fact, Cassini produced an equally stunning image in 2006.

However, photos of Earth from space never get old for me and are always an opportunity for self-reflection. Here are several vantage points from which to see our tiny blue orb:

Earth from Mars

Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M

This is the first picture taken of Earth from the surface of another planet. It was taken from the Mars Spirit Rover on March 8, 2004. The contrast of this image was increased by two times to make the Earth easier to see. This little rover was very far away from home.

Earth from Mercury

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

This is a stunning image of Earth and the moon sent from NASA’s Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (aka MESSENGER) spacecraft on May 6, 2010. The spacecraft was 114 million miles away, which is further away than the average distance from Earth to the sun. This happened because of where Mercury and Earth were in their relative orbits.

From the Moon

Credit: NASA

This is one of those iconic photos from Apollo 11, when human beings first touched down on a world other than Earth. The image of the lunar module, known as “Eagle,” was taken from the command module, known as “Columbia.” But you can also see the Earth, half illuminated, in the background.

Pale Blue Dot

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

At first blush, this is an unimpressive, grainy photo of darkness. But it’s so much more profound than that. Do you see that tiny, blue dot? The one illuminated by the right-most sunbeam? That’s Earth. That’s us. From about six billion kilometers away. It was taken by the spacecraft Voyager 1 as it was leaving the solar system. It doesn’t look like much, but, to paraphrase Carl Sagan, everyone we know, everyone we love, and everything we have is housed on this little speck of dust. And just think: that photo was taken in 1990. Voyager 1 was at the edge of the solar system, but it has still not hit interstellar space.

From the International Space Station

It’s easy to forget, but there are several humans living in Low Earth orbit, about 250 miles up. These incredibly lucky people send back photos of Earth from their spaceship home. This is a gorgeous view of Earth using time-lapse photography. You can see city lights, lightning and auroras. It’s just beautiful.

If you want to see more photos of Earth from space, I recommend following astronaut Karen Nyberg on Twitter. She tweets wonderful photos and occasionally a video, giving us land lubbers a glimpse of what life in space is like.

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Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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92 comments

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9:05PM PDT on Sep 29, 2013

earth is a small rock in space with a unique tiny fragile shell of amazing variety of life.. surrounded by trillions of square miles of hard lifeless vacuum..life that took two billion years to form.. and humans are killing it off in their mindless depravity. humans are more destructive than a meteorite, a freak nightmare on earth that should never have existed

7:27AM PDT on Aug 28, 2013

humbling

10:05AM PDT on Aug 2, 2013

amazing! really makes you feel small lol

8:02AM PDT on Aug 2, 2013

wonderful!

4:37AM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

Great shots. Helps you get a perspective on our place in the universe.

And I have to agree with Melanie P.. Too many of us think that somehow we have an option if we poison our planet and make it uninhabitable. The wealthy, the nationalists, the fundamentalists and their brainwashed puppets think we can risk our only home in this universe for money, ideology and blind faith.

11:15PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Thanks for sharing. Breathtaking.

9:20PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Wow. Wonderful!

1:26PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Awesome! How can humans be so ungrateful that they don´t see the wonderful planet we have and are killing it ;(

12:24PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Loved the blue dot! Puts everything into perspective, and if we were wise we'd get down off our high horse.

9:56AM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Nice pics!

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