back to article Outbound space probe looks back at tiny Earth and Moon

NASA's space probe Juno, outward bound for Jupiter, has sent pack a pic of the Earth-Moon system from 6 million miles away. The Earth and Moon, seen from the Juno spacecraft 6 million miles out. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech I can see the pub from here According to NASA, Juno was further away than the Moon within a day of being …


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  1. Michael Hudson

    The earth doesn't look very round in that picture

    Why is that?

    1. Mr Jolly
      Paris Hilton

      Re: The earth doesn't look very round in that picture

      Because half of it is in shade.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Same reason the moon only looks round once a month?

    3. chr0m4t1c

      Because it's not round

      The earth is an oblate spheroid.

      That, and the shading/shadows already mentioned.

    4. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

      Not round?

      Drat. You caught us, it was all done on a soundstage in New Mexico but we messed up the lighting.

      Love, NASA

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      As you know, the Earth is a flat disk, so if you take off on a rocket away from the disk on an angle toward Jupiter (which, as any educated person knows, orbits the Earth), the Earth will not appear perfectly round as you're viewing it from an angle.

  2. Arnold Lieberman

    Why solar

    What I don't know (and can't be arsed to find out quite frankly) is why NASA chose to limit the mission to solar power. What advantages does it hold? Considering the incredible expense and time it takes to put together a mission I would have thought they would want to wring every last drop of usefulness out of the probe.

    Enquiring, yet lazy, minds want to know...

    1. hplasm

      They wanted to use a radioisotope generator

      But the 'security' bods wouldn't let it in into departures...

    2. easyk

      why not

      If it meets the needs of the mission then why not. The payload is to operate at a 2% duty cycle (from the article) so you can spend all that off time charging the batteries or caps or whatever. I would guess that the solar array is lighter than a nuke power plant and probably cheaper too.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Two reasons

      In part it's a technology demonstrator that solar power can be used for deep space missions with low pier requirements, but in part it's been forced on the US by a lack of Pu-238 to go into radio thermal generators. The US has very limited supplies of the isotope which have to be shared between NASA and the military, and in recent years the US has been buying supplies from Russia. The US is ramping up production again, so this might only be a temporary bottleneck.

  3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    put in perspective...

    So, it doesn't really matter how badly we pollute our earth, does it?

    (Down votes are very welcome!)

    1. LaeMing


      to us lifeforms stuck to the surface. The rest of the whole universe won't even notice.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Too true

        What tends to get forgotten in all the climate change debates is that climate change almost certainly won't destroy the planet, it *might* make it uninhabitable for *us* and a fair chunk of other "higher" lifeforms, but if we're wiped out by it then the planet and something like 90% of life will continue on quite happily - probably much more happily than it is at the moment.

        Still, it'll finally put the Apple vs Android vs Samsung debates into perspective.

        1. BorkedAgain
          Thumb Down

          Yeah, but...

          ...whatever evolves to take our place will never have a chance to progress to the point of having their own industrial revolution, because we squandered all the fossil resources on Top Gear and eating strawberries in winter.

          Still, happy days, right?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            They're here ..

            and just need fish and to play playfully..

        2. LaeMing

          @chrOm4t1c:Too true

          Yes, I think we should talk less about endangering 'the Earth' and more about endangering 'our civilisation's ability to continue'. Would drive the point in a bit better, considering average human self-centered-ness.

          Of course the emphasis is on 'civilisation'. Even with catastrophic climate change there is a good chance a small portion of homosapiens would hang on at a subscistence level for hundreds of thousands of years. May even get back up to steam-power, but can't progress as all the readily accessible high-calorie fuels and 'rare' metals are long-since extracted and you can't get the rest without the boost that the easy stuff gave us.

          So it very likely we have only once chance in the span of our species and if we blow it, many millions of years for the next opportunity (by which time homo sapiens is very unlikely to still be around, so some other species will be doing it by then).

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward

        well come to the universe

        you have seen the big picture we are nothing in the vastness of space, just a little blue dot, and not even that when you get further out.

        so all our worries are nothing in the vastness of the universe so all chill out.

  4. breakfast Silver badge

    From a distance...

    Planet Earth is white and ... erm... there's nothing I can... bite?

    1. Chris 2

      "Planet Earth is white,

      so let's cover it in shite" ?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Attention Seeking Behaviour"

        "Attention Seeking Behaviour"

        Why do you want people to notice that you worked out he is referring to Major Tom?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    We don' need no steekin' title!

    Waiting for the "FAKE" calls as there are no stars on show...

    1. Cameron Colley

      I thik I see a flag that's not flapping in the wind too.

      So it can't be Earth...

    2. LaeMing

      It HAS to be a fake.

      It doesn't look a thing like they show in the movies!

  6. SMFSubtlety



  7. LuMan
    Thumb Up

    Despite the pic being of only 2 dots...

    ...that is one HELL of an impressive photo!!

    1. Bassey

      Re: Despite the pic being of only 2 dots

      Here here! Stunning pic.

  8. ross 15

    why solar?

    I believe there was no appropriate nuclear source available for the mission - noone makes much 238 Plutonium any more, and it takes a while to produce enough for a mission (and it's damn expensive).

    1. Gary B.

      re: why solar?

      It could also be that all the "OMG NUKES! IT MIGHT CRASH ON TAKEOFF AND SPREAD RADIATION EVERYWHERE!!!!11" people caused NASA to think it'd just be easier to go solar and not deal with the protesters. I imagine it's also cheaper than having to build a small nuclear reactor and fuel it.

  9. CD001

    Obligatory Python

    Can we have your liver, then?

  10. Derichleau

    Great Wall of China

    If you look closely you can just about make it out.

  11. MikeC


    I wasn't smiling, can you take it again?

  12. Nigel 11

    Black and White?

    Is that a monochrome picture? If it's in colour, I'm surprised that the Earth doesn't look more blue-green-ish when you average it into a few pixels.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It must be b/w

      'cause I recall reading about the Voyager's last pic of the earth as it was heading past Jupiter/Saturn and it was coloured and described as a "pale blue dot". Look it up in Google, there is an interesting and moving story behind, it done by Carl Sagan's team. Or just start here:

  13. Kane
    Thumb Up

    that's just peanuts to space...

    I'll just leave this here....

    1. Dan 10
      Thumb Up

      That's awesome!

      My head now hurts.

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Not bad...

      ...not bad at all.

      Now the zoom on Google Earth seems a triffle limiting.

      Is there a laymans page that explains the mimimun dimension? Is it that dimensions quantize? If not then you can't have 1.5 times the minimum, becuase you can't say how much bigger than 1 it is, no?

      Also why is the minimum / quanta so much smaller than any physical thing? Do the physical things move around on a grid of that size? or do they move around gridless, but if they get closer than that minimum then something weird happens?

      After thinking about that, my worst case analysis has just got interesting again :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        space is quantized into units at the planck length apparently.

        as for the notion that they can get closer than that, well, space and time cease to have meaning below that threshold because of the experimentally verified uncertainty principle, so any traditional definition of 'closeness' doesnt inherently make any sense.

        as for how these minimum units of space are arranged (is it regular grid? a hexagonal grid? etc), this seems to fall into the same category. and at this scale extra dimensions from super-string theory might come into play anyway (if it turns out to be correct).

        intuitive questions like -- "what happens when a particle emits a photon? shouldnt there be a fraction of time as it is being released when the photon is half in / half out, or half-formed?" -- dont necessarily make sense, as space-time is quantized, and the 'fraction of time' isnt something that can be said to exist in the real world on that scale.

        Brian green has a decent section at the end of "The Fabric Of The Cosmos" about ideas that underpin space time.

        Because of the vast difference in scale between gravitational strength and the planck length, it is extremely difficult to do experiments that probe how space-time (gravity / relativity / dimensions, etc) interact on a tiny scale.

  14. Tim Spence

    Release forms

    I hope they got the appropriate completed model release forms for everyone in shot.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely

    Oh no it isn't!

    (deep inhale)

    1. Simon Round

      This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely

      Oh yes it is!


      It's Behind You!

  16. yoinkster


    Had to bloomin clean my screen to figure out which blob was the moon and which the grease fingerprints!

    damn you reg, forcing me to clean like that :(

  17. Gavin Hamill

    Pale Blue Dot, anyone?

    Carl Sagan is my homeboy.

  18. NoneSuch Silver badge

    That... the first thing our new Alien Overlords will see just before they arrive on December 21, 2012...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Thats nice

      They'll be here just in time for Christmas.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I, for one....

        Welcome our alien Overlords at Christmas.

        So long as they bring beer, chocolate and a prezzy.

    2. David 164


      it the last thing they will see when we kick there little green butts back to where they came from.

  19. b166er


    What level of zoom is that camera using I wonder, to bring us that picture from 6 million miles.

    Can someone answer why we can't see any other celestial bodies? Have they isolated Earth and the Moon somehow?

    I'd rather see the heavens in their entirety, with Earth and the Moon highlighted.

    1. easyk


      "Can someone answer why we can't see any other celestial bodies? Have they isolated Earth and the Moon somehow?"

      Dynamic range

    2. Chris 244

      Not much

      Mars at its closest is 56 million km away, and clearly visible to the naked eye. At 10 million km, Earth and the Moon would be individually resolvable with the naked eye separated by about 2 arc minutes (full moon ~30 arc minutes, limit of human vision ~1 arc minute).

  20. rvt
    Thumb Up


    It's amazing that people went from the little speck of dust on the left to the little dot on the right 35 years ago.

    IMHO space age went backward, we haven't come farther anymore..

    1. Captain DaFt

      I wish I'd bookmarked the site.

      But there was a discussion on space travel, and the gist of it was that if the Earth was the size of a basketball, the moon would be the size of a tennis ball 9 meters away. That was how far we traveled in the late 60s/early 70s.

      Then if you take a ruler and measured 1cm from the surface of the basketball Earth, That's the ISS and how far we've been since then.

      Sad, isn't it?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Steve Knox

    Excellent picture

    What struck me immediately is the distance. We think of the moon as close to our planet, but as the picture shows, the distance between the Earth and the moon is roughly 30 times the diameter of the Earth. Wow

    1. mr.K


      It struck me as well, and as far as I can calculate, the picture doesn't even tell the full story. The orbit of the Moon places it either closer or farther away from the probe than Earth, so the full distance doesn't show.

      The picture creeps me out actually. I know the distances and the scale of things in the universe, but they are so vast they become just numbers. That picture however is the closest thing to a total perspective vortex I have ever come (look it up). It is close enough that for brief moments my brain gets a little perspective, or dare I say "sense of proportion". And let me tell you, it doesn't like it at all.

      Btw, I can see the Paris Hilton angle, but, well...

      Now then, somebody mentioned a pub.

      1. D@v3

        +1 for you sir

        The first thing I thought when i saw the photo was of the total perspective vortex.

  22. NomNomNom

    just goes to prove

    rl has shit graphics. dont get me started on the gameplay

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Real Life...

      The gameplay... geez ...the freaking User's Manual is not in the box. The PvP flag is open all the time.

      I won't even begin to complain about the GM apparent absence, abundance of PKs (that would be player-killers for the uninitiated), and general foul-play. Or heavy cheating and general, widespread abuse of the rules.

      ... trying to recompile the kernel will start a Flame War in a heartbeat. Specially without GM consent, no matter if you actually heard him telling you to do it, and you can't prove it to the other players.

      ... and the game takes freaking 9 months to download, and it takes 2 people already in the game to get you invited.

      I 'll stop right now...

    2. mr.K


      Not to mention the plot.

  23. Bounty

    longer life than rtg possible?

    I wonder how long they will be able to operate it. If radiation and micro meteors don't take it down.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Voyager is alive and kicking...

      ...already left the solar system and is still beeping back to Earth. Last I heard about it, anyway.

      Radiation shouldn't be a concern (isn't it powered by plutonium?) and no micro meteors got hold of it yet.

      This Juno thing heading to Jupiter should have no problems.

      Voyager holds right now the most range covered by a human-made working device, I guess. And I also guess you can count the distance to it light-hours or light-days, or a small percentage of a light-year. Pluto for instance is 4 light-hours away.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    earth mostly harmless

    they are building a hyperspace bypass, and we are in the way, check the plans!

  25. David 45

    Camera shake?

    Doesn't look very good to me. Either camera shake or I must have moved at the wrong moment. Could be anything, really!

  26. b166er


    These distances are enornous, eh?

    I once looked at the moon across a plateau, with it hung low in the sky. I could grasp the distance and actually feel it was close by.

    I've driven the 200,000 miles to the moon, and back. OK, it took 20 years on and off, but it's not that far. At the time, I could even see the possibility of a space highway going to the moon.

    But, where Juno is, and looking back, that's a different matter altogether. Does not compute!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    please please please

    Reg, Ask them to release all of the photos from first-test-after-launch. I think it would be really awesome to watch the earth/moon shrink in real-life photos like this.

  28. Z80

    Genuine question

    Did NASA really say it was further away than the moon within a day, or farther away?

  29. Goat Jam

    Snap happy.

    "The pic was snapped using the probe's camera as part of engineering checks"

    They oughtta try and restrain themselves or else they will run out of film before they get there.

  30. Bobster

    Pffft! Photoshopped!

    I could've produced that with one click of the mouse button using a 10-pixel brush in airbrush mode... these NASA bods have waay too much time on their hands since they dropped the shuttle program ;)

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