July 23, 2016

Earth and Moon seen by MESSENGER spacecraft from 183 million kilometers away

Earth and Moon from Mercury

Looking back from its orbit around Mercury, MESSENGER captured this view of Earth and the Moon on May 6, 2010. The spacecraft was 183 million kilometers (114 million miles) from Earth at the time, farther than our average distance from the Sun (150 million kilometers, or 93 million miles) because Mercury and Earth were at different places in their orbits around the Sun. The image was taken by the spacecraft's Wide Angle Camera (WAC) on the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS).

The view was a happy coincidence for the MESSENGER science team, as the probe was looking for vulcanoids, small rocky objects that have been postulated to exist in orbits between Mercury and the Sun. From the spacecraft’s view, Earth and the Moon are located near the boundary of the constellations Libra and Scorpius.

MESSENGER is the first spacecraft to fly by Mercury since Mariner 10 in 1974-75. It is not, however, the first to get a long-distance shot of Earth. In 2003, the Mars Global Surveyor spied Earth and its Moon in the same frame, while the Spirit Rover on Mars snapped the first shot of our planet as viewed from the surface of another planet. In 2006, Cassini sent back snapshots from 1.5 billion kilometers (930 million miles) from Earth as the spacecraft orbited Saturn. And the operators of the venerable Voyager 1 spacecraft pieced together a family portrait of the entire solar system in 1990, spying Earth from more than 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away.

Image Credit: NASA
Explanation from: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=45710


  1. There we living. Our home at the bright object. So incredible.

  2. There we are living. And fighting. And hating. If only... more people would silently ponder that 'bright object - So incredible'. With humility. And compassion.

  3. We should be thank full that mother Earth is giving us food water and air that we breath on .

  4. Our place bugged with hatred and discrimination

  5. Absolutely amazing to think we live on that bright star.

  6. Tiny earth with moon in space is a measure of vastness of space !