I have seen countless images of space, taken from Earth, above it, and many images from spacecraft at the destination itself: Moon, Venus, Mars, asteroids, comets , Jupiter, Saturn … the scenery is always magical and always somewhat poetic.
But there was something profound about seeing Earth from space. Definitely from low orbit, where we can see a small part of our planet, or from higher orbit, where we might see it as a saucer, blue and green and white.
And then, sometimes, we see it from so far, so far away that the vast world around us is shrunk to a dot, a pixel of light from a position a hundred times farther away. any human being ever to go.
This is such a view.
The Curiosity explorer took this image on June 5, 2020, looking up at the western horizon of Mars. It may not look very similar at first, just a grayscale mosaic of some drab Martian skies.
Look back. There was another pair of strange lights in the sky, two unresolved sparks battling the dazzling sunset. There is a lighter one near the bottom, a brighter one near the top.
The bottom one? Venus. Brighter? Earth. Home page. Here.
When Curiosity filmed that shot, it was exploring a clay deposit area on Mars, a target of particular interest because clay is produced by water and a potential pathway for life to flourish. . You can also see a butte at the bottom, unofficially known as Tower Butte, a sedimentary rock eroded by a billion years of Martian thin winds.
However, in spite of the vital significance of all possible geology and biology, our eyes are still attracted to the worlds above. Earth is more than 135 million kilometers away from Mars when that picture was taken, Venus was probably a little closer. I suspect that the dust in the air on the Martian surface has faded Venus more than Earth, otherwise it would appear brighter in the image.
If you can zoom in enough, you will see that both planets are moons, their smaller orbits bringing them closer to the Sun when viewed from Mars. From Earth, Mars is a red bright spot in the sky that rises after midnight. Now, a few months later, both Venus and Earth orbit Mars in their orbits, becoming morning stars in the sky east of Mars before sunrise.
However, that means words ours view that Mars is approaching the Sun in our sky, a glowing red eye shining from the eastern horizon not long after sunset. Venus that rises before the Sun in the morning, shiny and white, is one of the brightest natural objects in the sky.
How wonderful is that when we can feel this geometry, the actual positions of the planets not only in our sky but also in space, and in of them sky? I can imagine standing on Mars and facing west, seeing Earth through the local hills. Is it blue or green? Or does popular local dust change its color?
Anyone there looking up at the sky, seeing me?
Fanciful, sure. But maybe not for long. I have no plans to ever go to Mars, but somewhere, at this very moment, someone on Earth did. And I just bet they’re right.