The Mars Curiosity Rover Looked Up to the Night Sky and Snapped This Stunning Photo of Earth


Early on Thursday, NASA's Curiosity Rover tweeted its latest postcard from space: a stunning photograph of what the Earth looks like from the surface of Mars. It's a humbling image. Pictured is a tiny, twinkling dot on a darkened horizon. The Earth is the brightest object in the Martian sky. A zoomed-in version reveals the moon nestling just underneath.

The astronomical snap was taken by Curiosity's left facing camera, MastCam, 80 minutes after sunset on the 529th Martian day. NASA says that any human observer with normal vision standing on Mars, could easily see Earth and the moon as two distinct, bright "evening stars." Just like 'Earthrise' which was taken 45 years ago from our moon, the photo is provocative, and a stunning reminder of our fragile place in the universe.

To give you a better sense of scale, here's how Curiosity's image compares to other stunning photographs taken from space:

1. A sunset on Mars.

Taken by the Spirit rover from the surface of Mars on May 19, 2005.

2. The Earth underneath Saturn's rings.

Taken by Cassini while orbiting Saturn on July 19, 2013.

3. The Moon orbiting the Earth on spacecraft Juno's mission to Jupiter.

Taken by Juno on October 9, 2013, as it flew past Earth on its way to Jupiter.

4. The 'Pale Blue Dot.'

Taken by Voyager 1 on June 6, 1990 on its way out of the Solar System, at a distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) from Earth. The full image was the first ever "family portrait" of the entire Solar System.

5. The Earth and the Moon from near Mercury.

Taken by MESSENGER on September 1, 2010, on the spacecraft's closest orbit to the Sun.

6. The first photo of Earth from space in 1960.

Taken by weather satellite TIROS-1 on April 1, 1960.

7. 'Earthrise.'

Taken by Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. 'Earthrise' has been declared "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken."

8. Carl Sagan summed it up best.