LOOKING HOMEWARD in its long journey to Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft offered up this rare view of our home planet with its moon. The spacecraft was nearly 10 million kilometres from Earth when it took this photo on August 26, 2011.
From that distance, oceans, land, clouds, and ice blend into a blur of light, a mere dot against the vastness of space. Even fainter and smaller, the Moon provides an additional sense of scale—the Earth and Moon are about 402,000 kilometres apart. (Juno travelled the Earth–Moon distance in less than a day.)
The spacecraft launched on August 5, and will reach Jupiter, another 2,800 million kilometres away, in about five years. The mission team took the photo as part of the first detailed check of the spacecraft’s instruments and subsystems.
“This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, in a NASA release.
“This view of our planet shows how Earth looks from the outside, illustrating a special perspective of our role and place in the universe. We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves.”
Adapted from information issued by NASA/JPL-Caltech and Holli Riebeek / NASA Earth Observatory.
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