An iconic image updated

One of the most iconic images from the Voyager mission was taken 30 years ago today (14 February 1990).

To celebrate the anniversary, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California has published this new version of what has become known as the Pale Blue Dot, noting that modern image-processing software and techniques have been used to update it while respecting the intent of those who planned the image.

It shows Earth as a single, bright blue pixel in the vastness of space. Rays of sunlight scattered within the camera optics stretch across the scene, one of which happens to have intersected dramatically with Earth.

The original was taken just minutes before Voyager 1’s cameras were intentionally powered off to conserve power and because the probe – along with its sibling, Voyager 2 – would not make close flybys of any other objects during their lifetimes. 

It was part of a series of 60 images designed to produce what the mission called the Family Portrait of the Solar System.

The name Pale Blue Dot is traced to the title of the 1994 book by Voyager imaging scientist Carl Sagan, who originated the idea of using Voyager’s cameras to image the distant Earth.

Please login to favourite this article.