“Earth (on the left) and the moon (on the right) as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft on Aug. 26, 2011, when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66 million km) away. The photo was taken by the spacecraft’s onboard camera, JunoCam.” – NASA
Somewhere out there in the vast nothingness of space,
Somewhere far away in space and time,
Staring upward at the gleaming stars in the obsidian sky,
We’re marooned on a small island, in an endless sea
Confined to a tiny spit of sand, unable to escape,
But tonight, on this small planet, on earth
We’re going to rock civilization…
– Lyrics from “Prelude/Slam,” Pendulum
A NASA spacecraft cruising toward Jupiter glanced back and snapped a rare picture of Earth and the moon. Taken last week when Juno was 6,000,000 miles away, the image shows two white dots, one brighter than the other.
The solar-powered Juno blasted off earlier this month on a five-year journey to Jupiter. Though previous craft have visited the giant gas planet, Juno will get closer than ever before, flying within 3,100 miles of the dense cloud tops to learn more about Jupiter’s origins.
The $1.1 billion mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
“This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely,” said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in a statement. “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.”