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Jupiter probe looks back at Earth

Earth is on the left and the moon is on the right in this Aug. 26 photo from the Juno probe.
Earth is on the left and the moon is on the right in this Aug. 26 photo from the Juno probe.NASA / JPL-Caltech

Earth and the moon look like mere specks amid the blackness of outer space in a picture sent back by NASA's Juno probe during its trip to Jupiter. Maybe the view from 6 million miles (9.66 million kilometers) isn't as impressive as the close-ups we're accustomed to, but it does call to mind what the late astronomer Carl Sagan said about our pale blue dot almost two decades ago: "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."

Juno's principal investigator, Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute, echoed Sagan's comments in today's image advisory: "This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely. This view of our planet shows how Earth looks from the outside, illustrating a special perspective of our role and place in the universe. We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves."

The $1.1 billion Juno mission was launched on Aug. 5 and won't enter Jovian orbit until 2016. But this won't be the last we'll see of Juno. The spacecraft is due for a slingshot close encounter with Earth in 2013, coming as close as 300 miles (500 kilometers). Until then, Godspeed, Juno....

More views of Earth from deep space:

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