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Rosetta Comet Chaser Images Earth and Moon

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the image-as-a-verb dept.

Space 23

An anonymous reader writes "Using its navigation cameras at the end of July, the comet chasing probe, Rosetta, captured this photograph while looking back towards Earth. From a distance of over 42 million miles, the Earth and Moon look faintly like two headlights on a deserted road. The larger image particularly seems to underscore why Carl Sagan reflected (PDF) on all the battles fought for what?--to become 'the momentary masters of a fraction of a tiny dot.'"

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23 comments

Sagan (2)

numLocked (801188) | more than 9 years ago | (#9873549)

Sagan obsessed over the idea that Earth is incredibly insignificant in the long run (note the title of his book, Pale Blue Dot). I can't imagine going through life with that kind of attitude. As true as it may be, since we really can't do anything about it, taking such a big-picture kind of view would just demotivate me.

Re:Sagan (5, Insightful)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 9 years ago | (#9873674)

The truth doesn't care how unpalatable you find it to be. That idea isn't meant to be pessimistic. On the contrary. It's motivational, because we all have a duty to be kind to each other, to educate ourselves, to strive for progress, to be good caretakers for this tiny world. Why? Because in the end, that's all that we have. Look at how small we are, and how small our planet is. Look at how big the universe is, and how barren it is. When we got our little planet, we really won the lottery.

Re:Sagan (1)

Oggust (526634) | more than 9 years ago | (#9875575)

[...]to be good caretakers for this tiny world. Why? Because in the end, that's all that we have.

Not in the end. But in the beginning.

I'm surprised at your pessimistic view on future space travel, especially with a name like MarsDefenseMinister.

/August.

Re:Sagan (3, Insightful)

cephyn (461066) | more than 9 years ago | (#9873742)

I think his real point was that we should move past our trivial quibblings and take in the majesty of the universe. Wars and disagreements are trivial compared to bringing knowledge to humanity and moving humanity out to the stars.

Re:Sagan (1)

numLocked (801188) | more than 9 years ago | (#9873759)

I agree, his point was to move past out petty human differences, but the natural extension of that is to sit around in wonder, not doing anything because it's all insignificant. I understand that some people could be taken by such a philosophy, but I would just sit around fretting about how nothing i do matters.

Re:Sagan (1)

Red Rocket (473003) | more than 9 years ago | (#9878873)


So you find that living with a delusion that you are greater than you are is motivating?
Your "natural extension" is actually a non sequitur. Our common situation is significant ... to us. It's the only reality we have to work in so I'm motivated to make it the best it can be despite the fact that, cosmically speaking, we are insignificant. Fortunateley (for us, and the universe) we don't live our lives on a cosmic scale.

Re:Sagan (1)

numLocked (801188) | more than 9 years ago | (#9873804)

I find motivation thinking about how to find happy comprimises so that people can stop fighting, but when I try to contemplate something like the size of the universe, it makes me want to do nothing. But I guess people draw motivation wherever they find it.

Also, I'm not sure he was really looking towards moving humanity towards the stars. For all his philosophizing, Sagan always struck me as fairly pragmatic - he knew that something like long-distance space travel isn't a realistic goal for anyone living today.

Re:Sagan (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 9 years ago | (#9873820)

No not for anyone living today...but I'm sure he understood "in the long run" -- little things done or not done now could have huge significance (to humanity) far in the future. But you'll never know it, at least not until we can upload our brains into computers.

Re:Sagan (1)

kaltkalt (620110) | more than 9 years ago | (#9881051)

I agree, but you'd have to get rid of all religion (and thus all religious people) in order to have such a world. Religion and the grandeur of the universe are incompatible.

It's all relative (3, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 9 years ago | (#9873580)

I've never gone for the "the earth is a tiny spoeck" point of view. What matters isn't absolute size (no giggles please) but but how important something is. To a parent that little bundle of joy is worth many times more than a volume of space even if it contains 10^11 galaxies each containing 10^11 stars. 'matters' isn't concept that comes from physics and no matter how big the universe turns out to be it takes nothing away from how big the Earth and its inhabitants are in our personal lives. I simply don't measure importance in meters (or even feet).

Re:It's all relative (3, Insightful)

cephyn (461066) | more than 9 years ago | (#9873766)

But if we learn to understand the universe, learn to leave the earth and branch out into the massive universe, there's that many more tiny specks to care about, more people to have more bundles of joy. Importance isn't measured in meters...but it can be if we end up with a dirty, overpopulated, polluted square meter for everyone here....and nowhere else to go.

Re:It's all relative (2, Insightful)

sameerds (148710) | more than 9 years ago | (#9885945)

Isn't this attitude exactly what people like Carl Sagan try to fight? Importance is relative? Of course it is. Relative to the size of the cosmos and the possibility of innumerable other inhabited or habitable worlds out there, the Earth itself is unimportant. But its importance to us gets amplified even more!
It seems you didn't really read the poster very well and understand its message. You make it sound as if people intend to abandon Earth in favour of the Cosmos. What they are actually trying to say is to save us (and the Earth) form ourselves, exactly because we're such an insignificant thing from the point of view of the Cosmos, and the Earth is all we have right now.

Pale blue dot (5, Informative)

XenoBOFH (314125) | more than 9 years ago | (#9873581)

All I can say is read Carl Sagan' Pale Blue Dot [amazon.com]. It is a brilliant book about our fragile little world, and why we need to take better care of it - or get off it.

A nice breath of fresh air... (1)

students (763488) | more than 9 years ago | (#9874159)

This is obviously not your typical Slashdot story.
For one thing, no "FP" trolls.
I like to hear a little relaxed, phylosophical discussion, mixed with a blatant political statement.

Not a lot (4, Informative)

eingram (633624) | more than 9 years ago | (#9874894)

42 million miles sounds like a lot, but that's not even half of an AU (1 AU is the distance from the Earth to the Sun). I'm not sure the point of my post, maybe it makes us seem more insignificant, or maybe not. I'm not sure. :)

Obviously faked (2, Funny)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#9876067)


The picture is obviously faked. I mean, come on, do you really think there's some cosmic version of the HOLLYWOOD sign bobbing along beside us? Or that in several hundred years of telescopic obersevation of the heavens no one would have noticed the enormous "Earth/Moon" signs?

We've been gimped I tell you!

-- MarkusQ

Three dots (1)

art6217 (757847) | more than 9 years ago | (#9877383)

There are, but Earth and Moon, three small dots visible in the larger image. Anyone knows what they are?

Stars (1)

juggledean (792527) | more than 9 years ago | (#9877451)

I think the small dots are distant stars. I suspect the glow around the earth is over-exposure. The explanatory websites are refusing connection (/.?)

Meaning of Life (4, Interesting)

paz5 (542669) | more than 9 years ago | (#9880120)

First thing i thought of?


Galaxy Song

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.
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