On February 14, 1990 the Voyager I Spacecraft had left the solar system. It's mission was essentially complete but it was given an additional command to turn it's camera back towards Earth and photograph the place from which it had come. The image it took became known as the "Pale Blue Dot".
To be perfectly honest, the image wasn't that great. The camera made use of 1970s-era technology and was photographing a planet 3.7 million miles away.
Astronomer and author Carl Sagan had been lobbying for years to have Voyager take this very image. Although that original photograph wasn't particularly spectacular Sagan still recognized the symbolic power of the image. He wrote a book about it, in fact, and in it he described how he saw that original image:
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. 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. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
On July 19, 2013 the Cassini spacecraft orbiting around Saturn was given the command to retake that same self portrait. The camera was much better this time around and Cassini also had the advantage of being much closer to the Earth. The fact that this pale blue dot was framed by the back-lit rings of Saturn made for an image that was as sublimely beautiful as it was symbolically powerful.
Depending on your perspective, our world might not seem like much, but for those of us lucky enough to live upon it, this pale blue dot is everything. It's our world. It's our home. And regardless of the quality of the photo that illustrates this fact, it is an amazing thing to consider.
And so from all of us at HiWorks to all of you on this Pale Blue Dot of ours, Happy Holidays.