This excerpt from Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot was inspired by an image taken, at Sagan’s suggestion, by Voyager 1 on Feb.14, 1990. As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion km away, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays, Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.
The late Carl Sagan referred to this image of Earth in the title of his 1994 book, Pale Blue Dot. Sagan wrote: “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. … There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”