Carl-Sagan

Pale Red Dot: Astronomers Discover Potentially Habitable Exoplanet Orbiting Nearest Star

Pale Red Dot: Astronomers Discover Potentially Habitable Exoplanet Orbiting Nearest Star

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Artist’s conception of what Proxima b might look like. It is just slightly more massive than Earth and orbits in its star’s habitable zone. Temperatures might allow liquid water to exist on its surface. A potentially habitable world, it is also now the closest known exoplanet. Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser Astronomers today announced one of the most exciting exoplanet discoveries yet – an…

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“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic. ”

—Carl Sagan 

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Vox’s Joss Fong put together a beautiful video pairing the images from the Voyager Golden Records (learn more about them here) with words from Carl Sagan and music from Blind Willie Johnson. The first image was a simple “calibrating circle” used in this post’s title.

There’s something powerful about this collection of images – this small attempt to sum up human existence. Carl Sagan said:

The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic 'ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.

If we sent a time capsule to the aliens today, what would you want to include?

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“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 out their lives. 

“the earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.  

“our posturings, our imagined self importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. in our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. 

“the earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. there is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. visit, yes. settle, not yet. like it or not, for the moment the earth is where we make our stand. 

“there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. to me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” 

- carl sagan

photos taken from cassini in 2013 when 1.5 billion km from earth; voyageur 1 in 1990 when 6 billion km; mars rover curisoity in 2014 when 160 million km; and the lunar reconnaissance orbiter in 2014, when the moon was 403,473 km away from earth, or near apogee.