Skip to main content
First Family Portrait of the Solar System

In 1977 they began their interstellar journey

In 1977 NASA was preparing the Voyager 1 and 2 probes that would travel between the gaseous planets of the Solar System in order to collect images and data. Upon completion of this mission, they would continue their journey beyond Pluto out of the plane of the Solar System. Finally, on August 20, 1977, Voyager 2 was launched and 15 days later Voyager 1 would take off.

Carl Sagan, scientist and science communicator

While these probes traveled to their objective, the scientist and science communicator Carl Sagan, who had already worked on other NASA missions, had the original idea of ​​using the cameras carried by these probes to take an image of the Earth, because he wanted to show its vulnerability, to illustrate how fragile and irreplaceable it is, showing the small place we occupy in the Universe.

The responsible team rejected this and other requests due to limited engineering resources and the risk that the cameras would take when pointed in the direction of the Sun. It took eight years and six more requests for the long-awaited authorization to be finally obtained.

Carl Sagan. Scientist and popularizer

A pale blue dot

After the cameras were turned on and heated up for three hours, Voyager 1 took a mosaic of 60 images that included several planets in the Solar System, also capturing the light that our planet had reflected 5 hours and 36 minutes earlier.

The image called “A pale blue dot” contains scattered light similar to rays of sunlight, however they are artifacts that resulted from the need to point the camera a few degrees from the Sun. That one of the rays of light crossed the Earth was a happy coincidence and inspired Carl Sagan to write a book with the same title published in 1994.

Observar Estrellas en Tenerife - Stargazing in Tenerife

In February 1990 Voyager 1 turned off its cameras forever

At 5:22 UTC on February 14, 1990 and after taking these images, Voyager 1 turned off its cameras forever. However, after more than 40 years traveling through interstellar space, both probes continue sending us information.

Did you know that a message from Earth travels in the Voyager probes? In addition to having a scientific purpose, these probes were destined to become our space ambassadors. A few months before its launch, NASA, asked Carl to prepare a " message '' that would be included in the probes as had already been done in the Pioneer 10 and 11 missions that were launched in 1972 and 1973 respectively... but that's another story.

Since you have come this far, from AsterArk we want to thank you for your visit and we hope to inspire the day with this wonderful text by the great scientist and science communicator Carl Sagan.

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us “

“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 our 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 civilizations, 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 …. “

‘A Pale Blue Dot’, Carl Sagan, 1994

Observar Estrellas en Tenerife - Stargazing in Tenerife

Photo taken by the NASA mission, “Voyager 1” on February 14, 1990 at 6,054,587,000 km from Earth

Observar Estrellas en Tenerife - Stargazing in Tenerife

Photo processed in commemoration of the 30th anniversary