The last few weeks have seen many astronomy related anniversaries and planned upcoming missions, so it's only fitting that this blog should also feature a series of photographs about space. With the recent celebration of Earth Day, the first post in this series should somehow tie all of these themes together with an amazing image. The above photograph of Earth from Mars is such an image.
This gray-scale picture is remarkable in that it is the first ever photograph of Earth from another planet. If you are having trouble finding the pale dot that is the Earth, have a look at the image below.
The credit to this photograph goes to NASA's Mars rover Spirit which has been peacefully hibernating for more than a year now. The image is actually a mosaic taken by the robot's panoramic camera, giving observers a view of the Martian Horizon with Earth visible. The contrast has been adjusted to make it easier for human eyes to make out that little dot that represents planet Earth.
There are many other fantastic images of Earth and space taken from other robots and satellites that could have been featured today (and probably will be featured on this blog in the future), but this one was chosen for many reasons. Firstly, this view from Mars' surface seems strangely familiar and alien at the same time; if not for the description in this post, it could easily be mistaken for a photo of space taken from Earth.
Secondly, that same view could one day be seen by future generations of humans without the aid of any camera or robot, but with their very own eyes. Lastly, it's a comforting thought that of all the photos of space that is available online, it's still an image of Earth, however faint it may be, that is still one of the most inspiring.
Speaking of space, this post would be found wanting if didn't also feature the Habitable Zones of the Internet, a very informative and entertaining site run by fellow blogger Astronomy Pirate. Mr. Pirate will no doubt correct any mistakes regarding the information presented in this post as well as any future posts about space.