On February 1, 1990, the Voyager-1 spacecraft received a command to turn around to take a legendary photo of our planet. Exactly 30 years ago, on February 14, 1990, the world saw a pale blue dot suspended in the rays of the sun. The Voyager-1 probe camera made a series of 60 images that were used to create the first “family portrait” of our solar system. Today, NASA, together with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, have provided an improved version of the “Pale Blue Dot” using modern software and image processing methods. This was announced on the official website of NASA by representatives of the agency.
Last look at our planet
The Voyager-1 and Voyager-2 robotic vehicles were launched from Cape Canaveral in 1977. Initially, the mission of the Voyagers was to study the gas giants – Jupiter and Saturn, however, both devices have been dissecting space for 42 years now. Read more about what happened to Voyagers over four decades in our special material. Today, both spacecraft are 4 times farther from Earth than February 1, 1990. When Voyager 1 received a command to turn around to take photographs of the Earth, NASA experts knew that both devices would no longer come closer to other objects. Immediately after the pictures were taken, a gradual shutdown of instruments and other systems on both probes began. Thanks to these processes, the devices remain operational until now.
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Work on improving the quality of the original image was carried out under the supervision of specialists – planetary scientist Candy Hansen and engineer William Cosmann. Both specialists helped process the original image. As a result, the color of the photograph has undergone significant changes. According to The Universe Today, the use of special software, Photoshop and Lightroom allowed us to get rid of false color. However, the main goals of the Pale Blue Dot processing were to reduce grain size and scale. So, in the new version of the image, the Earth occupies only 0.12 pixels.
When the Voyager 1 probe made this amazing shot, it was outside Neptune at a distance of 6 billion kilometers from the Sun. Here is what astronomer Carl Sagan wrote about this picture in his eponymous book:
“Take another look at this point. It's here. This is our house. This is us. Everyone you love, everyone you know, everything you ever heard of, all people who ever existed lived their lives on it. A lot of our pleasures and sufferings, thousands of self-confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and gatherer, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every couple in love, every mother and every father, every capable child, inventor and traveler, every ethics teacher, every lying politician, every “superstar”, every “greatest leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived here – on a speck suspended in the sunshine … Our d olg – to be kinder to each other, to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot – our only home. "
Which version of the image do you like more – before or after processing? Share your impressions in the comments and with the participants of our Telegram chat.