Earlier this month, NASA released this unprecedented clip of the Moon orbiting Earth. The footage reminded me of another image captured more than thirty years ago by Voyager 1 when it was still just 7.25-million miles from Earth: the first photo to feature Earth and its moon, in their entirety, in the same frame.
In the picture are eastern Asia, the western Pacific Ocean and part of the Arctic. Voyager 1 was directly above Mt. Everest (on the night side of the planet at 25 degrees north latitude) when the picture was taken. The photo was made from three images taken through color filters, then processed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Image Processing Lab. Because the Earth is many times brighter than the Moon, the Moon was artificially brightened by a factor of three relative to the Earth by computer enhancement so that both bodies would show clearly in the print. Voyager 2 was launched Aug. 20, 1977, followed by Voyager 1 on Sept. 5, 1977, en route to encounters at Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980 and 1981. JPL manages the Voyager mission for NASA.
Voyager 1, of course, captured another famous photo of Earth and the Moon in 1990, this time from 3.7-billion miles away. The Moon, while technically within the frame, isn't really visible; but then what do you expect when our planet appears as little more than a Pale Blue Dot:
Voyager 1 finally left the solar system earlier this year – but not before having the cameras turned on it. Back in September, NASA released this view of the probe (then over 11-billion miles away) as "seen" from Earth – its faint radio signals a whitish-blue glow, detectable by some of Earth's most powerful observatories:
Three photos, captured decades apart from three different perspectives, provide three very different takes on Earth, humanity, and their respective places in the Universe.