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Earth's a Star: MESSENGER Spacecraft Captures the Earth and the Moon
Amanda Reed, 19 Aug 10

Earth and Moon from 114 Million Miles (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington via Messenger website)

NASA has released a stunning image of the Earth and the Moon taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft:

In the lower left portion of this image, the Earth can be seen, as well as the much smaller Moon to Earth's right. When MESSENGER took this image, a distance of 183 million kilometers (114 million miles) separated the spacecraft and Earth. To provide context for this distance, the average separation between the Earth and the Sun is about 150 million kilometers (93 million miles).

Wow. It is so amazing to see the Earth looking like a star. It really reminds me of how unique and small our planet is in the universe, and how important it is to cherish it and take care of it.

Click here to view the image at full size. See below for related stories in the Worldchanging archives:

  • Most Accurate Mars Map Ever | Amanda Reed, 6 Aug 10:
    "NASA has created the most accurate map of Mars ever with imagery from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Researchers at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility in Tempe, in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif have constructed a global map of the red planet using "nearly 21,000 images from the Thermal Emission Imaging System, or THEMIS, a multi-band infrared camera on Odyssey," which were collected over the last eight years."

  • The Moons of Saturn | Alex Steffen, 20 May 08:
    "When seen in comparison to the rest of known space, our little planet looks better and better, and less and less replaceable. Thinking about the Cassini probe, out there looking for us, for the first time, at one of our nearest neighbors, I feel a sudden rushing awareness of the very air I'm breathing, the water I'm drinking, the wheat and turkey in the sandwich I'm about to eat, the perfectly moderate temperature of a Seattle spring day, even the always unnoticed yet perfect gravity pulling at my hands as I type... an awareness, in short, of how perfectly suited for us this planet is, and we to it. We could, as Gary Snyder reminds us, live on this planet without tools or clothes."

  • To Understand and Protect Our Home Planet | Alex Steffen, 24 Jul 06:
    "As we've said before, to truly know the Earth, we need to take to space. A whole array of useful information about our planet can only be learned by leaving it -- whether by launching satellites, sending unmanned probes to other planets, or even shooting ourselves into the depths of space. Space exploration is green, and, even more, the green benefits of space exploration may be the strongest argument for undertaking it."

  • Saturn's Blue Sky | Jamais Cascio, 20 Feb 05:
    "While many of us at WorldChanging are ardent supporters of space exploration for good scientific reasons (especially robotic exploration, at least until an elevator is built), sometimes we have to admit to ourselves that part of why the Mars Rovers, Mars Express, Cassini/Huygens and the others are so interesting is that they can come up with some truly spectacular images. One of the most recent from Cassini is just jaw-dropping: the blue sky of Saturn, with the moon Mimas in the foreground. A small sample here wouldn't do it justice -- you really need to see this at full size."

  • Greens in Space | Jamais Cascio, 13 Jan 04:
    "Exploring space is a crucial component of our ongoing efforts to better understand -- and protect -- our home planet. The hallmarks of good, solid Green thinking are a focus on sustainability, a bias towards the accumulation of knowledge, and a preference for long-term thinking. These are also the principles that make for a good space program. These two realms are inextricably linked."

(Thanks for the tip Bruce!)

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"...reminds me of how unique ... our planet is in the universe." That seems like an odd reaction. It reminds me how utterly non-unique we are: we're just a tiny speck in an incomprehensibly large universe teeming with billions of other planets that can support life.

Posted by: Phil on 20 Aug 10

It's a really humbling image- and in many ways inspiring. Personally, I'd give anything to travel into the solar system and admire the distant beauty of our planet.

Posted by: Joe on 23 Aug 10

When I saw this photo I got goosebumps... It was so amazing to see our home planet and moon that far. Hope Humans, Earth and the Universe could get along FOREVER.

Posted by: SarahMendez on 24 Aug 10

Wow! I never thought that the earth looks like a star from far away. Why does it glow anyway? I think its possible were not the only one's out there...

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Posted by: nips101 on 31 Aug 10

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