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Earth Space Science

Juno Looks Back, Photographs Earth-Moon System 100

astroengine writes "Looking back as it zooms through interplanetary space, less than a month into its 445-million mile, five-year journey to the gas giant Jupiter, NASA's spacecraft Juno captured a portrait of the Earth and moon. Juno was 6 million miles away at the time. 'This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely,' said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. '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.'"
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Juno Looks Back, Photographs Earth-Moon System

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @03:43AM (#37262346)

    From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. 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. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

    • by whyloginwhysubscribe ( 993688 ) on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @05:21AM (#37262644)
      For me, it is also a reminder of the distance between earth and the moon. It shows what a real achievement it was to get there, and I suppose why we haven't done it as much more recently.
      • That is what I was thinking when I saw the picture.
        Most diagrams/Pictures of the Moon and Earth are not to scale or angled in a way that makes the distance distorted. While I know this is the fact, to actually see it to scale really puts it in perspective.

        • Err, what are you guys basing the scale on? The photo is arbitrarily cropped with no other item in view to help you gauge scale.

          Also, the moon landing is a pet peeve of mine. Its moon landings. There were several manned and unmanned as well.

          For fun, the moon is 238k miles away. The circumference of the earth on the equator is 25k. So if you were to fly around around the earth on the equator you'd have to do this about 9 times to get to the moon. Far, yes, but not ridiculously far.

        • I once saw a series of diagrams showing the various orbits around the Earth. It included the Moon, to scale. I was surprised at how far out the Moon's orbit was, and also surprised at how far out geosynchronous orbits are.

          Wish I could find that diagram now.

    • Pale Blue Dot (Score:4, Informative)

      by macraig ( 621737 ) <mark.a.craig@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @06:22AM (#37262850)

      A quote of Carl Sagan [], for those who don't know.

    • by wye43 ( 769759 )
      No - no words. No words to describe it. Poetry! They should've sent a poet. So beautiful. So beautiful... I had no idea.
    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @09:10AM (#37263716) Homepage

      Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
      And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
      That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
      A sun that is the source of all our power.
      The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
      Are moving at a million miles a day
      In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
      Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'.
      Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
      It's a hundred thousand light years side to side.
      It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
      But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide.
      We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
      We go 'round every two hundred million years,
      And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
      In this amazing and expanding universe.

      The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
      In all of the directions it can whizz
      As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
      Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
      So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
      How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
      And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
      'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

      One of the better bits Eric Idle came up with.

      • As featured on Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: []

        By the way, how nice of them to put so many of their clips on YouTube, instead of DMCAing every fan and waiting for the royalties from the dvds...

      • In true nerd fashion it is indeed my favorite song that Eric Idle ever wrote. It is amazing how he was able to capture our utter insignificance in 24 lines, all while rhyming and ending with a punchline.

        Aw shit, I'm gushing aren't I?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @03:49AM (#37262360)

    Fake! Where are those orbital lines you always see in diagrams?

  • Hey! I can see my house from here!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      After many zooms and enhances. Photoshop Hollywood Edition (HE) can do it!

      • Hey I want that algorithm. In a few years we can have CPUs that can process that stuff in real time. and we can just send a stream of 32 bit pixels over the net and we can watch real time movies.

        It reminds me of a compression algorithm I though of when I was a kid, when I only had basic math skills where If I just recorded the number of iterations of a brute force attack and stored it on Base256 then I could save a lot of space... Later on I realized that the data is a base 256 number (in bytes) and the it

  • You can barely see anything in the picture!

    From TFA:

    "This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "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."

    Are they about to sell this picture to a modern art museum?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Come on.. there are literally dozens of planets in that picture.. oh wait.. those are just dust particles on my monitor..

    • by Raenex ( 947668 )

      You can barely see anything in the picture!

      That's the point. It's a different perspective from our everyday self-centered view of the world.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "The damage doesn't look as bad from out here..."

  • by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @04:38AM (#37262520) Journal
    is dust on the lens.
  • I know my trigonometry is a bit off these days, and we have no indication here of zoom, but from 6M miles away, I would have expected the earth and the moon to appear closer together; in fact I would have expected them to be virtually indistinguishable.
    • by moozey ( 2437812 )
      My thoughts as well.
    • It's roughly:

      RadToDeg (ArcTan (0.384 / 6*1.609))) = 5.87 degree

      If you are sitting behind similar monitor and font settings as mine, it would be like staring at


      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        Rule of thumb (pun intended) of angular measurement for most people with their hands extended at full arm's length:

        * pinkie finger subtends about 1 degree
        * first three fingers (index to ring) held tightly together subtend about five degrees.
        * fist subtends about ten degrees.
        * fingers spread into span subtend about 25 degrees.

        My guess is that somebody realized the spacecraft would be positioned to capture a picture of the earth and moon with nice angular separation. Had their luck been ideal, they'd have cau

    • The moon is about 250,000 miles from the Earth. At this distance (atan(250000/6000000)) the angular separation is about 2.3. Compare this to the angular diameter of the moon when you look up at night (0.5) and they would still be easily resolvable to the naked eye.
    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      The moon orbits at ~240,000 miles. That seems like the right angular distance for a triangle of 6,000,000 x 240,000 (25:1) You can distinguish two things that are an inch apart from 25 inches away, right? Further, the earth's diameter is ~8000 miles, and the distance from the earth to the moon in that photo is approx 30x the width of the earth.
    • Fairly simple. Given the poor resolution however I suspect its cropping. I would have expected better frankly. In space 6M miles really isn't very far.

      • That's probably because it doesn't have a particularly good camera. We've got lots of good pictures from Galileo -- the purpose of this mission is to map the gravity, magnetic and radiation fields. The mission is power-starved and in a really nightmarish radiation environment, so the only camera is intended solely for outreach purposes, and that one won't last long (7 orbits) within that radiation.

        Remember this is not a flagship mission, meant to do anything and everything. It's a relatively cheap missio

  • If it wasn't that the reason it is a white spot instead of a blue one that this shot is capturing the light reflecting of my white belly as I try to catch some of the dutch summer.

    Some are born great, some have greatness trust upon them, I have my own moon!

  • "We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves.'"

    Once again they want me to feel humble. Quite to the contrary, that little dot is a very small part of the universe and yet it's the only place we know for sure that life exists. That makes me feel pretty special.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That makes me feel pretty special.

      That. And the short school bus.

  • by bjomape ( 1534745 ) on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @05:27AM (#37262670)
    The Mars Express spacecraft got a better (IMHO) shot a few years back: []
    • by niktemadur ( 793971 ) on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @07:46AM (#37263106)

      Back in 1977 when Voyager 1 began its' journey, it took this classic snapshot: []

      • I'd like to see an image from something headed toward the sun, looking back at Earth. Showing a lighted sphere on both Earth and the Moon, where the moon is at a position to show distance, aka 90* angle relative to earth, between the image taken and the moon.

        Alright NASA, you have your task. Minions assemble! []

        • You mean, exactly like the linked image from the summary?

          • You mean, exactly like the linked image from the summary?

            You mean that isn't a shot of Juno on the opposite side of earth from the sun, presumably taken with a really, really big flash?

            • Two really, really big flashes. You don't want Earth to have red-eye (it hates when people mistake it for Mars).

      • Why are the terminators (the dividing line between the illuminated and the unilluminated part of the moon's or a planet's disk) on the Moon and the Earth not parallel?
    • Remember though, Juno is not an imaging mission. Its only camera is there for outreach purposes, will die a quick death once it gets into orbit because of the radiation environment, and thus they didn't spend much money on it.

      Juno's mission is to map the gravity field, radiation environment, and magnetic field. It's a (relatively) low-cost mission with a focused science goal, and is thus quite different from a mission like Galileo which produced stunning images of Jupiter and its moons. Similarly, any i

  • This reminds me of the photograph of Earth taken by Voyager the famous Pale Blue Dot [] photograph taken from the edge of the solar system. That is an amazing picture. It makes you realize just how small and fragile the Earth really is in the immensity of the Universe.

  • ...but couldn't they take a picture while the probe was a bit closer to us?

  • That's no moon...
  • really puts us in perspective to the rest of the solar system. we are not special. we are just a small insignificant dot in a sea of planets and stars and galaxies.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351