Astronomers always want to look back home.
The European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter — which has been studying Mars from above for two decades — captured a spectacular view of our planet and its moons from millions of miles away.
“In these simple snapshots of Mars Express, the size of an ant seen from 100 meters away from Earth, we are all there,” Jorge Hernandez Bernal, a planetary scientist working on the orbiter’s mission, said in a statement. . “Even though we’ve seen images like this before, it’s still humbling to pause and think: We’ve got to look at the pale blue dot, no Planet B.”
The most distant images ever taken of Earth
In the footage below, you see the Moon orbiting Earth from a distance of 186 million miles (300 million kilometers). This is similar to what you would see if you were standing on Mars, using binoculars, looking back at Earth.
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For decades, the orbiter has blessed researchers with insight into Mars. Evidence has been found that Mars, early in its history, was a blue watery world capable of hosting life (it is unknown if any primitive Martian life ever existed). Key findings include “the presence of minerals that only form in the presence of water, the discovery of groundwater-ice deposits, and evidence that suggests volcanism on Mars may have existed until recently.” The European Space Agency said(opens in a new tab).
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On the surface of Mars, NASA currently has two car-sized rovers exploring the Red Planet’s desert. The Perseverance rover parachuted into an area on Mars called Jezero Crater, a place planetary scientists suspect was once filled with rivers and streams. Along with several orbiters, these faithful robots will guide NASA and other space agencies as they search for the best places to land future robotic explorers and, one day, astronauts.