Space agency NASA has published a modernized version of Pale Blue Dot photo. This famous photo was taken exactly thirty years ago at the behest of scientist Carl Sagan and shows the Earth as a speck.
The original Pale Blue Dot photo.
NASA has released a new version in honor of the photo’s thirtieth anniversary. The organization says it has used modern image editing techniques and software and that the original dates and intent of the planners of the original Pale Blue Dot photo have been respected. The original photo was taken with the Voyager 1 Narrow-Angle Camera at 5:48 AM CET on February 14, 1990.
In the original photo, the Earth is only 0.12 pixel in size, and apart from the Earth as the white dot, you can mainly see several rays of light from the Sun, one of which seems to pass right through the Earth. Those reflections are a result of the photo being taken with the sun quite close to the camera’s field of view, which raised concerns at the time that the camera system would not be damaged. That’s why the photo wasn’t taken until Voyager 1 passed Neptune and was 6 billion kilometers from Earth.
The new photo is a composite that combines multiple images using the Narrow-Angle Camera’s special filters for green, blue and violet light. NASA says that both the original and the updated versions are in fact a “false-color view” because the color filter images are used to make red, green and blue visible. In addition, the brightness of each color has been adjusted relative to the other colors, so that the new photo appears to have less noise, according to NASA. The color of the sunbeam passing through the earth was also adjusted. It now appears a lot whiter, so that it more closely matches the white light of the sun.
The photo of Earth, which was eventually renamed Pale Blue Dot in 1994, is named after Carl Sagan’s book of the same name that has the photo as its cover. He came up with the idea to flip the Voyager probe’s cameras, after which the image of Earth was taken on February 14, 1990, among other things. Sagan came up with his idea for the photo in 1981, to show humanity the vulnerability of the earth and to make it clear how small our world is on a cosmic scale. On February 13, 1990, Voyager 1’s cameras warmed up for three hours. After that, the platform turned to Neptune and the shooting began.
Before the camera system was turned off on Valentine’s Day 1990 to conserve power, the probe captured a total of 60 images of planets in our solar system. In addition to Earth, it also shows Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus. Mars was not visible in the photos due to scattered sunlight, Mercury was too close to the Sun and Pluto was too small and too far away to detect. Thirty-four minutes after making Pale Blue Dot, the cameras turned off. It wasn’t until May 1, 1990 that all photo data was received by NASA’s Deep Space Network.
Voyager 1 was launched shortly after Voyager 2 on September 5, 1977 and reached interstellar space in August 2012, and is the most distant man-made object to date. In December 2018, NASA reported that Voyager 2 had also left the heliosphere and entered interstellar space.
NASA’s updated photo