Do you see it? Can you see earth?
Let me give you a hand,
That is earth. Earth captured by NASA’s probe voyager 1 just over 27 years ago (taken on the 14th of February 1990) from just past neptune. This image in an of itself is not very spectacular and if you showed it to someone without context they probably would think you are joking if you said it was anything more that a mistake. But while the signifier in this complex image is not much more then a white spec in a few beams of light. But it signifies much more and can put into perspective how big we as humans really are.
For me this image’s signifiers is just a pixelated old photo that looks like it was trying to capture a rainbow in a dark space when a spec of dust was captured in-between the camera and one of the beams of light.
In this image it is the signified that make it complex image. The knowledge that this photo was taken from over 4 Billion miles (multiple by ~1.6 to get Km) away from us. This combined with the fact that this is a real image displaying what can be seen when looking back at earth from that distance, not a computer generated approximation. In contrast to the milk way (the galaxy where our solar system is located) images we have all been shown which are our best guess at what it looks like.
With this knowledge Carl Sagan in his book “Pale Blue Dot” interpreted the image as follows: “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of … There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”
The fact that this image is still taken from within our solar system, within our neighbourhood of solar systems, within our galaxy and so on.
If this image is to hard to see the previous step look at the full size version here, the red text is a good marker of what your looking for.
So then in what ways can this complex image mean with all this context?
One way to look at is is that we are just tiny and insignificant with only vast empty space within reach.
While another might look at it and see the potential to explore new undiscovered places on the horizon. Then be motivate to find ways to look and explore this new ‘space’.
But the real question is what does it mean for you?
2 Replies to “What is that? We waited months to see that?”
This image truly shows us how insignificant we are in the observable universe. However, in a sense Earth is our universe as we only interact with places, people and things on Earth. Although, we have conquered space by travelling to the moon, the majority of our species will only experience life on Earth and from that perspective the rest of the universe is as insignificant to us as we are to it.
It begs the question as to what is the universe in relation to us as individuals. Will we ever travel outside our galaxy? Perhaps we’ll never know.
Yes, very interesting i had not considered that.
It may be as you say that ‘earth is our universe’, but why can’t the whole universe be ours too? yes we may never know or see the day where this is a reality but i believe it can be a motiving force to help drive advancements in technology which can also help with technology and ease of transport around our own world. So rather feel insignificant we can feel like that their is another horizon for us to conquer.