The dune drive problem:
Curiosity needs to read this.
NASA's Jet propulsion Laboratory has published the first image of the Earth and Moon taken from one of the camera systems aboard the Curiosity rover. We look very small indeed. Earth from Mars You are here (click to enlarge) Curiosity's mast camera took the picture of us on Sol 529 of its mission to Mars (January 31 in …
It's been many years since anything has so much as brought a tear to my eye. I read Pale Blue Dot over a decade ago. Seeing these pictures, and reading Dr. Sagan's words again, reminded me of how they are some of the most moving and awe-inspiring moments of my life. If we could get the whole human race to stop their bullshit for two minutes and really contemplate all of the ramifications of these pictures, we'd make a giant leap as a species.
We were born, we have thrived and we will all disappear on this tiny grain of sand in the infinite universe.
Forget any dream of moving out and colonizing other planets because although we are an intelligent species we are definitely not a wise one.
Just reading those words and hearing Carl's voice in my head is enough to send a tingle down my spine.
Surprised how small the earth looked from our nearest planetary neighbour though.
Mars appears as a small reddish dot in the night sky on Earth. Since Mars is about half the size of Earth then Earth should look like a slightly less small, bluish, dot on Mars.
"Forget any dream of moving out and colonizing other planets because although we are an intelligent species we are definitely not a wise one."
This intellectual masochism is tiring...
Commenting on the small blue dot, somebody once said to me "doesn't it make you realise how insignificant we are". I had to say "no, we built that spaceship, we sent it on it's way to the stars; insignificant, I think not".
Thank you Carl.
"Commenting on the small blue dot, somebody once said to me "doesn't it make you realise how insignificant we are". I had to say "no, we built that spaceship, we sent it on it's way to the stars; insignificant, I think not".
Thank you Carl."
Indeed, and what magic he made on television and on radio.
Now to another IMNSVHO great man who influenced many things, including this medium , we are "[...]An invisible dot on an invisible dot. Infinitely small. [...]". I think that he was speaking through the character of the Total Perspective Vortex's guardian (Gargravaa I think).
 Though he used a Mac.
Mrs Brown: Makes you feel so, sort of, insignificant, doesn't it?
Man: Yeah. Yeah. Can we have your liver, then?
Mrs Brown: Yeah. All right. You talked me into it.
>>"Forget any dream of moving out and colonizing other planets because although we are an intelligent species we are definitely not a wise one."
We as a species are capable of great wisdom and great foolishness. Your mistake is to think that they are inseparable. The foolish might remain here, but the wise will eventually shake us off in their pursuit of the stars.
This came in the same week as the report of the ~900 000 year old footprints of a family in Norfolk, that have now been destroyed by the tide (but fortunately after they were recorded).
They were human, but of at least a different race and more likely a different species.
At one end of the scale of civilisation we are looking at our planet and its moon from a long way away with a robot probe, and looking into our own deep past and trying to understand long extinct human groups. At the other, we have people paying other people to claim the Earth is 6000 years old, and yet other people killing our nearest relatives out of greed.
It's just beyond comment.
Variety is the spice of life!
This sums it all up nicely about the insignificant speck that is Earth. But also, the promise of what can be...
A lovely piece, Mr Thompson! Especially your last paragraph!
Of *course* it's going to be close to the sun; from Mars, Earth has much the same relationship as Venus does to Earth. It's always going to be a morning/evening star from Mars.
I wonder if it's as bright as Venus has been this last week?
Venus has been bright?
Good to know, 'cause here the Sun was having trouble getting through the clouds, let alone Venus...
>>I wonder if it's as bright as Venus has been this last week?
Venus has vast clouds of vapourized Sulphuric Acid giving it an albedo just shy of a polished mirror. I doubt the Earth shines half so bright, unless you're watching on radio wavelengths, in which case we probably dazzle.
Mine was — “Crikey, *of course* a Martian civilisation would be able to see our moon! I wonder how their early philosophers would have wrapped their heads around that one?What conclusions would they have reached in their own time?”
(I am aware that there isn't actually a martian civilisation, at least not in terms of what we'd consider one!)
Best article ever posted on El Reg.
I have often looked up at Mars in the night sky. Kinda cool to think it was looking back at me the other day.
Mars's chavvy neigbour, continuously spewing electromagnetic radiation into the cosmos like a lowered Citroen Saxo in an ASDA car park.
and throwing (nuclear-powered laser-armed) tin cans over the fence.
Martin Budden : "and throwing (nuclear-powered laser-armed) tin cans over the fence."
There's an alien robot on Mars powered by nukes and armed with lasers spying on Earth. It talks to orbiting mother-ships.
It was sent there by an Alien Species to scope out the planet for possible colonisation sites, among other tasks.
Do our leaders know this? That aliens are sending nuclear-powered, laser-armed robot probes to our near neighbours?
We should tell them. If we slant it right we might even get a Starfleet out of it.
It does make me wonder whether some politicians who want to cut research budgets for this kind of work do so because they do not like being reminded how insignificant all of us are.
I rather like looking up at the stars and realizing that on the one hand all our worries are not that significant, and on the other hand, that I am a bit of star-dust, a tiny supernova remnant that has woken up and wonders about the stars. Physically we might be small, but in terms of imagination we can be great indeed. Unfortunately, the same can hold for our egos.
I hope I can take some snaps of Mars as it approaches opposition next time round. I might not be able to see Curiosity, but I hope to improve on an earlier attempt
I don't know how much of your picture was done optically (with stabilization, etc.) and how much was done digitally, but you have quite a telescope-thingie. To get much better will be a ton of work.
"I don't know how much of your picture was done optically (with stabilization, etc.) and how much was done digitally, but you have quite a telescope-thingie."
More details here.
Some great shots, and his speciality is image processing so really, really knows what he's doing :-)
"The Earth and Moon blend into a single blob and could only be separated by image enhancement"
Really? I lust looked at the original image from NASA and I can see the two quite distinctly, if a little blurry. Look for yourself...
Seems to me the image enhancement worked just as it should. But in any case, thanks very much for the link to the full-size pic. It should have been included in the original article. I am constantly amazed how little use news sites make of the linking abilities of the Web. Are they afraid we'll find something more interesting and never come back?
"And slowly and surely they made their plans against us".
I'd stay away from Horsell Common for a while!
Ogilvy, the astronomer, can go first.
To quote that eminent astrophysicist, Yakko Warner,
“It’s a great big Universe and we’re all really puny
We’re just tiny little specks about the size of Mickey Rooney
It’s big and black and inky
And we’re all small and dinky
It’s a big Universe and we’re not...”
OK, one last time. These are small... but the ones out there are far away. Small... far away... ah forget it!
A combined alien battle fleet of the Vl'hurghs and G'gugvuntts was swallowed by a small dog accidentally.
Sorry, time for me coat. The one with the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy cassette tapes in the pocket
"The one with the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy cassette tapes in the pocket"
I have them stored on an infinitely small MP3 player. You should get out more!
What? Not on 'the cloud'!. How un-temporarily- fashionable.
... full of stars
Nowhere. That's where we're heading.
Interestingly (well, at least to me) Tennyson and his circle saw that this was where things were heading, and he wrote this before the Origin of Species. "She" is Nature, "types" are species:
From scarpèd cliff or quarried stone
She cries "A thousand types are gone
I care for nothing, no not one"
He couldn't spell out too clearly that we were one of the species doomed to extinction because in those days atheism in the UK was a major circulation loser. (Also, a completely irrelevant note, in 1844 stone, gone and one all rhymed - so much for the King's or Queen's English being unchanging. Language too evolves.)
...did they put a decent microphone on the rover?
Just wondering what it sounds like on another planet. I suppose not much but the sound of wind or whatever would be interesting.
It probably sounds like not much at all without a lot of signal processing. Mars' atmosphere is almost a vacuum in human terms.
" The Earth and Moon blend into a single blob and could only be separated by image enhancement and the elimination the effects of cosmic rays from the shot, NASA said."
Or, as we say in the trade: "Trickery".
Since an image, a thought has made me stop and think in quite this way. The quote it in the article was almost an epiphany - something that I'd considered before but not that ... powerfully. The comments, also - the one about being a piece of a supernova that came alive now looking back at it's (ultimate?) creator honestly bought a tear. That comment, and others like it here, are the reason I keep coming back to this site.
And yet - humans are the reason that picture was ever in existence. I honestly feel the high point of mankind's achievements came 40 to 50 years ago with the Apollo and Mariner/Gemini/Voyager projects. There was a man on the moon more than half a century ago. We should have had a long-term, if not permanent, lunar colony there by now. Yes, I'm sorry, even if it killed a few people in the learning process, the same as the start of space flights did. A few heroes made the ultimate sacrifice to help inch humanity along the way to the stars, which, on whatever timescale you please - is where we'll eventually need to be in order to survive.
The skies will be clear tonight. I will be sure to look, and wonder which of those soul stirring splashes of arcane brilliance, colors whirled from the universe's palette onto an infinite backdrop I came from.
Sandra left him up there, so we should be able to see him!