Thirty years ago, the Voyager 1 spacecraft was traveling far out into the cosmos when it turned around and snapped one of the most iconic images of all time — the “Pale Blue Dot,” an image of Earth, a tiny blue speck shining brilliantly in a band of light.
The image was taken thanks to a campaign led by Carl Sagan, the astronomer and famed science educator and author. At Saga’s request, NASA turned the spacecraft around and snapped a dazzling picture of Earth. For the anniversary, NASA engineer Kevin Gill spruced up the image, using modern image-processing software and techniques to enhance the picture (that was not available when the image was first taken) while keeping it true to its original form.
The Carl Sagan Institute (formally known as the Carl Sagan Institute: The Pale Blue Dot & Beyond), an institute at Cornell University that is dedicated to furthering the search for, and the study of, habitable planets and moons, also joined in to celebrate the anniversary of the magnificent image.
NASA released an updated version of the famous “Pale Blue Dot” image of Earth taken by Voyager to celebrate the photograph’s 30th anniversary. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
On Feb. 14, the institute shared a new video entitled “Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot – 30 Years On.” In the video, a rotating cast of voices articulate one of Sagan’s most famous quotes from his book “Pale Blue Dot.” The quote reads: “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.”
“This image of our home, taken from an unimaginable distance, became one of the greatest legacies of our endeavors in space exploration,” the video says. “Carl knew that this picture would have immeasurable cultural value, offering a unique perspective on our place in the universe.”
The Institute for Pale Blue Dots at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York,was renamed the Carl Sagan Institute: Pale Blue Dots and Beyond in a ceremony on May 9, 2015. The institute is dedicated to advancing the search for life in the universe. (Image credit: Carl Sagan Institute: Pale Blue Dots and Beyond)
The video goes on to highlight how, following this groundbreaking photo, our species has pushed space exploration forward in incredible, innovative ways.
“With more than 4,000 exoplanets detected to date, we have begun observing the first pale dots around other stars,” the video says. “We can now peer into the atmospheres of these new worlds, continuing our quest to find life in the universe.”
The cast of narrators who lent their voices to this video includes Ryan MacDonald, Jack Madden, Thea Kozakis, Lara Sky Kaltenegger, Mark Sarvary, Zifan Lin, Maryame El Moutamid, Andrew Ridden-Harper, Nikole Lewis, Jake Turner, Ishan Mishra, Zoe Ponterio, Carl Sagan Institute director Lisa Kaltenegger and Ann Druyan, a science communicator who co-wrote “Cosmos” with Sagan and whom she married in 1981.