back to article 'That's here. That's home. That's us': It's 30 years since Voyager 1 looked back and squinted at a 'Pale Blue Dot'

Thirty years ago, the Voyager Project celebrated 14 February not with a card, but with a family portrait of the Solar System, which would give rise to the celebrated "Pale Blue Dot" concept. The Register spoke to the scientists involved, as well as those who might snap a future image. For all its impact, the iconic image might …

  1. MonkeyBob

    One of these for the imaging team --->

    1. TonyJ

      Plus a few others for the rest of the team!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great to see some many women in science at NASA

    And I feel depressed that I can write that in 2020.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great to see some many women in science at NASA

      Didn't realise so many El Reggers were so misogynistic. Shame that,

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Great to see some many women in science at NASA

        Not misogynistic, it's just unnecessary to bring gender into abso-bloody-lutely everything.

        Science (and scientists) are awesome. Leave it at that.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Carolyn Porco

    Super star to the (real) stars!

  4. Red Sceptic

    Thank you

    True romance!

  5. Rich 2 Silver badge


    "If there's no science in this, then you won't be able to do it."

    It's amazing that NASA send out rovers called "curiosity" and probes called "voyager" and yet their upper management have absolutely none of the qualities that such names embody. In fact NASA have an extremely long history of deliberately ignoring (or deliberately destroying) interesting and curious stuff.

    Thank goodness the people on the ground occasionally manage to get around such closed-off and sterile opinion. And good on 'em!

    1. Mark 85

      Re: NASA

      I remember Kennedy's quote about space and it applies to the "pale blue dot" photo:

      We choose to go to the Moon...We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.

  6. IDS

    Why no photo of Dr. Porco?

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      Rights issues probably. Unlike the other US Federal military and paramilitary organizations NASA's images aren't in the public domain for most uses, and they're very particular about employees being used in commercial material.

      From their media usage guidelines:

      NASA Content Used for Commercial Purposes

      For more information on using NASA content for commercial purposes, please read NASA Advertising Guidelines. Any questions regarding use of NASA content, or any NASA image or emblem should be directed to Bert Ulrich of the Multimedia Division of NASA's Office of Communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

      For information on NASA involvement in documentaries and films, please see documentary and fictional film project guidelines.

      If the NASA material is to be used for commercial purposes, including advertisements, it must not explicitly or implicitly convey NASA's endorsement of commercial goods or services.

      If a NASA image includes an identifiable person, using the image for commercial purposes may infringe that person's right of privacy or publicity, and permission should be obtained from the person.

      Current NASA employees, including astronauts, may not appear in commercial material.

      Commercials and promotional content cannot be filmed on NASA property

      If I'm not mistaken, Dr. Porco is currently an employee on the Solar System exploration committee so unless they go find her CalTech faculty official photo, which may also be copyright, its not something they can use.

  7. Chris G

    Human curiosity

    Sometimes when you turn over a stone, you may find something that could bite or sting you but you will always have an opportunity to learn from it.

    1. Ragarath

      Re: Human curiosity

      You forgot the "if it din't kill you first" part!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Human curiosity

        Isn't that only a problem in Australia, where pretty much everything tries to kill you?

      2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Human curiosity

        "You forgot the "if it din't kill you first" part!"

        You can still learn, even if it kills you. You just don't have very long to apply your new learning...

    2. Muscleguy

      Re: Human curiosity

      We aren't the only species doing that. Not a stone but one summer I was sitting at the lights at a local intersection here in Dundee and on the grass verge beside me was a crow which was moving along a line of pats of grass clippings, flipping them over, cocking its head then darting in for a morsel.

      Various invertebrates were sheltering in the relative cool moistness under the pats of clippings. It was hot and sunny* and the cut grass was browning.

      Just think about the cognition to recognise that as a strategy and that one might not be a fluke. Crows are SMART. Remember the New Caledonian variety is a toolmaker. Ours can often be seen working the strandline on the beach.

      *Yes really, Dundee is the sunniest city in Scotland. Clouds approaching from the West are often caught by the hills to our north opening the skies over the city. This fact irks St Andrews a bit since they have fractionally more sunshine hours than us but since they recently rejected the opportunity to become a city, retaining their Royal Borough status (dating from before the Union of Crowns btw) so tough cheese.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Crows are SMART.

        Was amazed on a recent "Monkey Cage" to hear about Australian Eagles that deliberately take burning branches from bushfires, carry them across natural barriers (like rivers) drop them into the trees and wait for the food to start running out from shelter.

        1. Tom 7

          Re: Crows are SMART.

          As we get better with AI and develop more and more intelligent programs I believe we will learn a lot more about just how intelligent and concious* animals are.

          *I'm nearly convinced that conciousness is a necessary emergent property of any multicellular animal. We just regard ours as special because we have the ability to misunderstand it in conversation.

        2. chrisw67

          Re: Finally?

          They like a bit of selfie action too!

      2. Danny 2

        Re: Human curiosity

        Sunshine must cause heart failure then.

        The number of people in Dundee killed by heart disease has risen by almost a fifth in three years to nearly one every single day.

        New figures from NHS Scotland revealed that the number of deaths from heart attacks, heart failures or coronary heart disease (CHD) has risen by 19.2% from 280 in 2013 to 334 in 2015.

        It’s the highest level reported in six years, above the national average and equivalent to 0.91 deaths a day.

        The majority of deaths, 72.1%, were caused by CHD.

  8. Squeensnex

    It looks like selfies...

    were popular even before cell phones!

    1. Muscleguy

      Re: It looks like selfies...

      The original one was Earth Rise shot from the lunar surface of course which showed the Earth as a sphere, a limited sphere hanging in space.

  9. ma1010
    Thumb Up

    Excellent article!

    More of this, please.

    1. LeahroyNake

      Re: Excellent article!

      I second that comment but would add the following as possible articles.

      Space in general, spacex and the battle for commercial space flight. Boeing and their cluster ducks of late, starliner as the obvious one but their risk manglement in general. UK and European space antics, current launches not just the historical stuff.

      It is all related to IT in one way or another / I doubt they are using WiFi6 (bit pointless IMHO) to beam down data but Starlink? Surely there are tech angles to it that come from space tech years ago that we are using now on a daily basis?

      I would rather read them here than ARS, the writing over there is nowhere near as good..... Also I can't be arsed setting up an account to become a commentard.

      One more thing, somebody have a moan about the lack of affordable 10Gbe for home, gees it's 2020 and I'm still on a 1Gbe LAN from 2000!

  10. Tom 7

    A pale red dot

    in 2070 if a whole Siberian wildfire hasn't already been and gone?

  11. Multiscat

    Another great book is The Interstellar Age by Jim Bell. Fascinating history of the Voyager project. An astounding fact from it: 99.8% of all the matter in the solar system is within the sun, and of what's left, more than half is inside Jupiter.

    1. Tim 49

      Is there much matter in Uranus?

      (sorry, briefly thought i was 30 years younger).

  12. Robert Grant


    I'd like to exercise my right to be forgotten from all of those images, please.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: GDPR


      Who are you, anyway?

  13. Elledan

    Spaceship Earth

    A view that's become quite popular is to look at planet Earth as our very own spaceship. Looking at this mostly-liquid rock with a thin slice of atmosphere and life support system on its crust making its way through space, it's not such a crazy view. Although dependent on the nearby star (the Sun) to support this thin layer of life, everything that was and makes up the history of Earth including the few nanoseconds that we have spent on its surface, all of it happened right there.

    The Space Age has always been there. We just didn't bother to look up enough, away from Earth, at this massive Universe around us.

    "These are the adventures of spaceship Earth. Our mission: to seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no human has gone before."

    Or we can just keep bludgeoning each other over the head during squabbles in the proverbial galley over things nobody else in the Universe gives a toss about :)

  14. OzBob

    I remember Dr Porco from the BBC Series "The Planets"

    which was released over 20 years ago now, Very good documentary, mixing classical music from "the planet suite" and interviewing various astronomers. Also very noteworthy for talking to Soviet Scientists about their efforts, first time I had seen that too.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    I miss Sagan

    He was a herald for human achievement. A great mind and a wonderful human being. The Pale Blue Dot speech makes me cry every time I hear it.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It's now de rigueur to take a picture of Earth if you have a spacecraft out there!"

    How approapriate for a planet obsessed with selfies.

  17. cipnt

    I mean Voyager was impressive because it was the first and most of us didn't even had colour tv at the time, but look at those superb Cassini picture ⚆_⚆ Mindblown

  18. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    >squinted at a 'Pale Blue Dot'

    ...and the pale brown dot of Uranus squinted right back

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