The Pale Blue Dot is a famous photograph taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990. It depicts Earth as a tiny, pale-blue dot against a background of vast darkness. The image is a reminder of our relative insignificance in the grand scheme of things, while at the same time expressing our incredible capacity for exploration and discovery.
Carl Sagan, who was instrumental in obtaining the image, wrote that “From this distant point, Earth may not seem of much interest, but to us, it is different, because here we live, it is our home.” Everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever heard of, everyone who ever was, the pale blue dot represents our unity and our potential in the vastness of outer space.
On February 14, 1990, mission managers ordered the NASA Voyager 1 spacecraft to look back one last time to snap images of worlds before it took off for interstellar space. The Voyager team created a mosaic of 60 images intended to create the first “family portrait” of our solar system, a stunningly beautiful collection of photographs depicting our planets, asteroids and moons.
Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth and Venus are visible in the Voyager 1 image, but some of the major members of the Solar System cannot be seen, as Mars was obscured by scattered sunlight bouncing around the camera. Where Mercury was too close to the Sun, and the dwarf planet Pluto too small and too far away, both were not easy to capture, but Voyager 1’s images have given humans an awe-inspiring and unprecedented view of their home world and its neighbors.