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Orbiter takes rare picture of Earth 180 million miles away on Mars
Featured Image Credit: European Space Agency

Orbiter takes rare picture of Earth 180 million miles away on Mars

The fascinating image captured Earth from 180 million miles away

If you are a bit of a space geek or are just interested in our planet, a recently released image from the European Space Agency (ESA) is pretty exciting.

While snaps of Earth, the Moon and other planets in our solar system have been captured on space exploration missions before, this shot is surely up there as one of the most impressive yet.

To the naked eye, the picture may just look like a bunch of fuzzy white dots on a grey background, though that couldn't be further from the truth.

In fact, the snap is a shot of both Earth and the Moon from some 187 miles away on Mars.

The ESA's Mars orbiter captured the shots while it was moving around the planet on a space exploration mission.

In the photo, the tiny little white dot is Earth, while the even fainter blob is the Moon.

Earth is looking rather small millions of miles away.
European Space Agency

The picture that will likely go down in history, coming 30 years after Earth was first described as a pale blue dot by scientist and communicator Carl Sagan.

The scientist got his inspiration from a 1990 image of Earth captured by NASA's Voyager 1, and his subsequent speech is remembered to this day.

Sagan reflected on how Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life, pointing out responsibility to be more kind to each other.

Despite that speech being more than three decades old, the ESA believe the message is as prevalent as ever.

Jorge Hernández Bernal, who is part of the Mars Express team, said: "On the special occasion of Mars Express’s 20th anniversary since launch, we wanted to bring Carl Sagan’s reflections back to the present day, in which the worsening climate and ecological crisis make them more valid than ever.

The Mars Express team captured the shot of Earth (stock image).

"In these simple snapshots from Mars Express, Earth has the equivalent size as an ant seen from a distance of 100 metres, and we are all in there. Even though we have seen images like these before, it is still humbling to pause and think: we need to look after the pale blue dot, there is no planet B."

While Mars Express’ High Resolution Stereo Camera is primarily used to for observing Mars’s two moons and the stars, it was able to capture Earth and the Moon earlier this year.

The images show the pair on 15, 21 and 27 May, while another look was also obtained on 2 June. This covers more than half of the Moon’s monthly orbit around Earth.

Topics: Space, News