July 24, 2013 | David F. Coppedge

Cassini Shoots "Blue Dot" of Earth

Another epic photo of Earth from space was taken on July 19 of Earth from Saturn by Cassini, and released on July 22.  From Mercury, the MESSENGER spacecraft also portrayed Earth as a small dot.

Many articles reported the photo-op, such as this one on Space.com, which reminded earthlings that such photos provide perspective:

It’s not often that some event comes along to really show humanity its true place in the universe, but two NASA spacecraft have just managed just that.

It may not be often, but many images of Earth from space have been taken since the famous Christmas Eve “Earthrise” photo by the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968. Galileo, Cassini, and some of the Mars missions have turned toward Earth to snap photos on their journeys.  The earlier Earth-facing photo taken by Cassini from behind Saturn has been a classic since 2006 (Astronomy Picture of the Day, 10/16/06).

Another classic, the “pale blue dot” photo of Earth in a beam of sunlight taken by Voyager in 1990 at the edge of the solar system, inspired opposite conclusions: that we are insignificant, according to Carl Sagan, and that we are designed for a purpose, according to The Privileged Planet.  The new Cassini image shows Earth not as pale, but as a rather bright and brilliant blue dot.

For more views of the new Cassini photo, see the Cassini website, Astronomy Picture of the Day July 22 and July 23, and video clip on Space.com.

How could God care about beings on such a tiny speck?  That question has been a huge stumbling block to many since modern astronomy revealed the vastness of the universe.  Remember a couple of things.  For one, human beings are about halfway on a scale from the very small to the very large.  For another, God’s concern for us is not based on our physical size; He is omnipresent, which means all of God is present at every point in space.  For one more, we almost have to be the size we are (given the laws of nature) to be held gravitationally to a body the size of the Earth, so that we can live and move and have fellowship with one another.  Everything about our world – its star, its moon, its diameter, its composition – is exactly right for life.  Watch the Privileged Planet documentary (watch entire documentary on YouTube in 12 segments), and marvel at how the world God made for us allows us to explore the farthest reaches of space, and to begin to grasp the mind of God.


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