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Voyager 1’s Famous Long-Distance Valentine

14 Feb 2017, 13:00 UTC
Voyager 1’s Famous Long-Distance Valentine
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Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune as seen by Voyager 1 in 1990 (Credit: NASA)
If you’re in love with space then you’ll fall head over heels for this: it’s a picture of Earth taken from the Voyager 1 spacecraft after it passed the orbit of Pluto back in 1990—on Valentine’s Day, no less. That image of our planet from almost 4 billion miles away inspired Carl Sagan to write his famous “Pale Blue Dot” passage, which reminds us that we are all just riding on “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

On February 14, 1990, after nearly 13 years of traveling the Solar System, Voyager 1 passed the orbit of Pluto and turned its camera around to take a series of photos of the planets. The image above shows those photos, isolated from the original series and are left to right, top to bottom: Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Full 60-frame mosaic of Voyager 1 images acquired Feb. 14, 1990 showing the planets around the glare of the Sun. (NASA/JPL)
From that distance, over 4 billion miles from the Sun, the planets each appear as little more than a bright dot against the vastness ...

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