In 1990 the Voyager 1, already at 6 billion kilometers from us, turned around to take a picture of our little world from the boundary of the solar system (thanks [Carl Sagan](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot_(book(" target=”_blank) for making it happen).
Few days ago the Curiosity rover on Mars took advantage of the martian night to turn toward the sky and take a picture of its brightest star. The result was published yesterday by NASA/JPL and is an incredibly beautiful follow up of the pale blue dot picture.
Alone in the dark martian sky you can admire the Earth (a little left of center in the image) and if you get a better resolution image from the NASA webpage you can see our moon is just below Earth. Mars is much closer than the Voyager 1 at the time, and still our world is nothing more than a Pale Blue Dot in the sky.
Despite the abundance of planets (some of which compatible with life) found by the Kepler mission I believe that this picture reinforces the reflections made by Carl Sagan (see Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space) concerning the old picture made by Voyager 1:
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that 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. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.