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.