After Voyager 2 had made its history making flyby of Neptune the Voyager probes were being prepared for the ‘Interstellar’ phase of their mission. Carl Sagan who at the time was on the Voyager imaging team suggested that Voyager 1 look back at the solar system and take a range of pictures of the planets as it could in a final farewell. So in 1990 Voyager 1 took the pictures and beamed them back to NASA.
One of the pictures taken was this one. It’s Earth. The picture dubbed ‘The Pale Blue Dot’ . When the images were taken Voyager 1 was 40 astronomical units from the sun at this moment. One astronomical unit is 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.
Trust me it’s there, in the third (and brightest) dull stripe about two thirds down there’s a spec.
That’s us. Well us in 1990.
Sagan wrote in his “Pale Blue Dot” book:
Carl Saga – Pale Blue Dot
“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. … There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”
But what does this pale blue dot really mean, for us as humans?
The Pale Blue Dot represents a goal not just point of light. When man can look back and see that same pale blue dot with his own eyes, it’s will be the first step in truly understanding the place of humanity in the universe.
It will be the first glimpse what humankind is meant to be and where it is going and that those dreams could be achieved.
The pale blue dot will be there even if man is not, whether something is there to see it or not. That insignificant spec will either be a cradle of life for a race that became so much more than what it started as or the crucible for a race that could have been and so nearly was.
The pale blue dot is not just a picture it was the final farewell, a look back of by a machine that took the hopes and dreams of a race to infinity. Carried by an ambassador for a race that is may outlast.
It is timeless for us, for the Earth and the universe. The messenger that took the Pale Blue Dot may one day be one of only a handful of artifacts in the universe that will testify humanity ever existed.
In a way the pale blue dot shows us all that we are allowed to dream the impossible and try and realise the improbable. We are more than just human, we are the universe looking at itself and wondering…. “What if?”
© Simon Farnell 2013 – 2022
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