No matter where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going, it’s always good to see home. And we all love seeing pictures of our home planet, as seen from space.
The latest image of the Terran System comes from China’s Mars mission, Tianwen-1, which launched on July 23. It captured an image of the Earth and the Moon, seen from about 1.2 million km from Earth, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
It joins a great group of photos taken of our “pale blue dot” from missions like Voyager, Cassini, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and, of course, the Apollo missions to the Moon. You can see a gallery of Earth-Moon images as seen from other worlds here.
Tianwen-1 used its optical navigation sensor to take this black-and-white photo, showing both the Earth and the Moon as crescent-shaped, “watching each other in the vast universe,” said Xinhua News, China’s News Agency.
This is CNSA’s first mission to Mars, and it joins two other Mars missions launched this month, as Earth and Mars are aligned favorably for the fastest and cheapest (in terms of fuel expenditures) trip between the two planets.
The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) first-ever interplanetary effort, the Hope Mars mission, also known as the Emirates Mars Mission, launched on July 19, and NASA launched the Perseverance rover on July 30.
China’s ambitious mission consists of a lander, rover and an orbiter. Tianwen means “Heavenly Questions”, or “Questions to Heaven.”
The mission is slated to study the Red Planet’s morphology and geological structure, soil characteristics and distribution of surface water ice, surface material composition, atmospheric ionosphere and surface climate and environment, as well as physical field and internal structure of Mars, said Liu Tongjie, spokesperson of China’s first Mars mission and deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center.
The latest update on the mission said the spacecraft was in good condition.