Martian perspective: Mars Express celebrates 20th anniversary with mysterious space pics. Check them out!
In a remarkable display of science and engineering, the Mars Express orbiter has clicked remarkable pictures across a gulf of some 300 million kilometres. At first glance, the view might not look like much, just a fuzzy, out-of-focus image. But, it is the Earth and the Moon captured from a distance of roughly 186.4 million miles and a reminder of our collective duty to preserve the "pale blue dot."
A blob and another blob
The sequence of four images showcase a fuzzy grey scene with a white blob representing the Sun and a fainter, smaller blob depicting Earth and the Moon as they move across the sky.
These images as per Science Alert were captured by the super-resolution channel of Mars Express's High Resolution Stereo Camera on 15, 21, and 27 May, and 2 June 2023 and were taken to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Mars Express.
Evoking the iconic "Pale Blue Dot" image captured by Voyager 1 in 1990, the significance of these snapshots goes beyond their visual appeal.
The significance of these images
Astronomer Jorge Hernández Bernal of the University of the Basque Country and Sorbonne University emphasised the relevance of these images in the context of the worsening climate and ecological crisis. He said that they "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."
"In these simple snapshots from Mars Express, Earth has the equivalent size as an ant seen from a distance of 100 meters, 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."
As per the Mars Express team, while these images hold no scientific value, they seized the opportunity to capture these snapshots.
"That's home. That's us": Carl Sagan
In his 1994 book 'Pale Blue Dot' talking about an image of Earth captured by Voyager 1 in 1990, Sagan wrote "That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives."
"The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilisation, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar,' every 'supreme leader,' every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."