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Earth in Mars’ sky

The Mars rover Spirit captured this image on March 8, 2004. It was the first image of our world taken from another planet beyond our Earth-moon system.

I ran into this image recently and had to post it here for you to see. Isn’t it awesome? It’s Earth as seen in Mars’ sky by the rover Spirit on March 8, 2004. This is Mars’ sunrise sky. Earth has risen into view just before the Martian dawn.

Earth in Mars’ sky on March 8, 2004, as seen by NASA’s Mars rover Spirit. Make larger. Thanks to: NASA Goddard Photo and Video on Flickr. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M

NASA says it’s an historic image, the first-ever image of Earth from the surface of a planet beyond our own Earth-moon system. The Mars rover Spirit captured this image one hour before sunrise on the 63rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission on March 8, 2004. Here’s what NASA has to say about this image:

The image is a mosaic of images taken by the rover’s navigation camera showing a broad view of the sky, and an image taken by the rover’s panoramic camera of Earth. The contrast in the panoramic camera image was increased two times to make Earth easier to see.The inset shows a combination of four panoramic camera images zoomed in on Earth. The arrow points to Earth. Earth was too faint to be detected in images taken with the panoramic camera’s color filters.

By the way, you can see Mars in nearly this same position in Earth’s sky now – nearly drowned in the glare of the nearby sun that sustains both Earth and Mars – except that Mars in Earth’s sky is visible in the evening now, instead of before dawn. Mars is tough to spot from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere now, but easier from the southern part of Earth’s globe. Still, I’ll bet you can spot it if your sky is clear! To learn how to spot Mars in late September 2012, click here.

Bottom line: Earth seen in Mars’ sky by the Mars rover Spirit on March 8, 2004. This is the first image of Earth taken from the surface of a world beyond our Earth-moon system. Awesome!

Deborah Byrd