NASA’s ‘Pale Blue Dot’ photo of Earth gets an upgrade on 30th anniversary

Feb. 14 (UPI) — An iconic NASA photograph of Earth, taken from the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990 and known as the “Pale Blue Dot,” received an upgrade on its 30th anniversary.

The new version uses modern image-processing software and techniques but its artistic essence remains, dramatically depicting Earth as a single pixel in the vastness of space. Rays of sunlight cross the screen and intersect with Earth.

It was taken on Feb. 14, 1990, moments before the spacecraft turned its cameras off to conserve power. The Earth is barely visible in the photo but nonetheless prominent. Voyager 1 was about 3.7 billion miles away from the sun and on its way out of the solar system when mission managers commanded it to look toward home for a final time. The entire photograph, when mounted on a wall, covered 20 feet.

The view of the Earth was one of 60 images which formed the “Family Portrait of the Solar System” and included images of the sun and of six planets observed by the Voyager spacecraft.

Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus all appeared in the series of photographs, although Mars was obscured by scattered sunlight and was unable to be photographed. Mercury was too close to the sun to be visible, and dwarf planet Pluto was too small and dark to be detected.

“Pale Blue Dot” was the name of a 1994 book by Carl Sagan on the Voyager probe.