International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

The ‘Pale Blue Dot’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pale Blue Dot

Mains level : Voyager 1 mission

 

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the NASA published a new version of the image of Pale Blue Dot.

Pale Blue Dot

  • The ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is one of the most iconic images in the history of astronomy.
  • It shows Earth as a single bright blue pixel in empty space within a strand of sun rays, some of which are scattering from and enlightening the planet.
  • The original image was taken by the Voyager 1 mission spacecraft on February 14, 1990 when it was just beyond Saturn.
  • At the behest of astronomer Carl Sagan, the cameras were turned towards Earth one final time to capture the image.
  • After this, the cameras and other instruments on the craft were turned off to ensure its longevity.

About Voyager 1

  • Voyager 1 is a space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977.
  • Having operated for more than 42 years, the spacecraft still communicates with the Deep Space Network to receive routine commands and to transmit data to Earth.
  • At a distance of 148.67 AU (22.2 billion km) from Earth as of January 19, 2020 it is the most distant man-made object from Earth.
  • The probe’s objectives included flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

The Family Portrait of the Solar System

  • The Pale blue dot image was a part of series of 60 images designed to produce what the mission called the ‘Family Portrait of the Solar System’.
  • This sequence of camera-pointing commands returned images of six of the solar system’s planets, as well as the Sun.
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