See that tiny bluish dot in the photo above? That's Earth from 900 million miles away. Feeling small and insignificant yet?
This photo is one of a collection of images from the Cassini space probe that NASA released Monday, showing the Earth and the Moon (the even smaller, white speck to the right of our fair space rock) from the vicinity of Saturn's orbit. NASA also released similar images of the Earth as taken from the MESSENGER probe—which is searching for moons that may be orbiting the planet Mercury—and according to NASA, it was "the first time people on Earth had advance notice their planet's portrait was being taken from interplanetary distances."
It's simultaneously stunning and a little depressing, actually, to think that you exist on nothing more than a tiny, pale dot. Like ants on the sidewalk, almost.
As for why we don't get to see interplanetary photos of the Earth more often, NASA explains:
Pictures of Earth from the outer solar system are rare because from that distance, Earth appears very close to our sun. A camera's sensitive detectors can be damaged by looking directly at the sun, just as a human being can damage his or her retina by doing the same. Cassini was able to take this image because the sun had temporarily moved behind Saturn from the spacecraft's point of view and most of the light was blocked.
Me? I'm going to go sit in a dark room and contemplate life now... ._.
Other stuff you might like...
- Thanks, science! Mobile phones could run on urine power
- Meet the guy who built a Lego microscope that actually works
- NASA test-fires a 3D-printed rocket part—and it didn't melt under the heat
This story, "Want life to feel pointless? Look at these photos of Earth from 900 million miles away" was originally published by TechHive.