Is it a bird? Is it an airplane? No, this is Earth as it is photographed from Mars in a rare shot taken 180 MILLION miles away

To the uninitiated, they may look like fuzzy white dots and spots on a gray background.

But what you’re looking at is actually an incredibly rare snapshot of Earth and the Moon taken on March – 187 million miles.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Orbiter has captured epic images as it circles the Red Planet, capturing the cosmic objects moving across the Martian sky.

The white dot is the Earth and the fainter drop is the moon. The scene was taken by the Mars Express spacecraft which has been watching the distant world for 20 years to detect water underground which could lead to the discovery the signs of life.

ESA’s Mars orbiter has been orbiting the red planet for 20 years and took a moment to look back. The probe captured a rare view of the moon circling our planet 186.4 million kilometers away
The white spec is Earth, and the faintest drop is the moon as it moves around our planet

Jorge Hernández Bernal, part of the Mars Express team, said: “On the special occasion of the 20th anniversary of Mars Express since its launch, we wanted to bring Carl Sagan’s reflections back to the present day, in which the he worsening climate and ecological crisis makes them more valid than ever.

“In these simple Mars Express snapshots, Earth is the size of an ant seen from 100 meters away, and we’re all in there.

“Even though we’ve seen images like these before, it’s still humbling to stop and think: we have to take care of the pale blue dot, there is no planet B.”

The amazing video is a sequence of images taken by the super-resolution channel (SRC) of the Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), primarily used to observe the two moons and stars of Mars.

They show the Earth and its moon on May 15, 21 and 27 and June 2, 2023.

And the last photo shows more than half of the moon’s monthly orbit around Earth.

The June photo was taken on the 20th anniversary of the launch of Mars Express to the Red Planet – the orbiter arrived later in December.

Daniela Tirsch, a member of the Mars Express HRSC team at the German Aerospace Centre, DLR, said: “There is no scientific value in these images, but since the conditions allowed us to point the HRSC at Earth and little soon after the VMC to Mars, we took the opportunity to create our own portrait of home on this incredible leg of the Mars Express mission.

The craft is an approximately five-by-six-foot cube with two 60-foot-long radar antennae.

It photographs the entire surface of Mars in high resolution, produces a detailed color map of surface minerals, maps the atmosphere, and probes beneath the surface using radar.

The scene was taken by the Mars Express spacecraft which has been watching the distant world for 20 years to detect water underground which could lead to finding signs of life

On the 20th anniversary of Mars Express, ESA shared “live images” of the Red Planet with the public for the first time.

Mars has previously only been seen through images of orbiters and landers exploring it, usually a few days after the shot.

LEARN MORE: NASA’s Perseverance rover discovers various organic materials on the Red Planet

Similar molecules containing mainly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur have already been detected in Martian meteorites and the planet’s Gale crater.

Around noon Eastern Time, 12pm ET (5pm UK time), new footage was released approximately every 50 seconds.

The Mars Express Visual Surveillance Camera has previously discovered the evolution of a rare elongated cloud formation hovering over one of Mars’ most famous volcanoes – the 20 km high Arsia Mons.

Since science operations began in 2004, the sustainable orbiter has given scientists a whole new view of Earth’s intriguing neighbor.

It now helps answer fundamental questions about the geology, atmosphere, surface environment, water history and potential for life on Mars.

The spacecraft’s high-resolution camera returned thousands of spectacular 3D views of the Martian surface.

An instrument has discovered hydrated minerals that only form in liquid water, confirming that Mars was once much wetter than it is today.

The first radar sounder ever to orbit another planet has detected layers of water ice underground.

Another instrument has detected enough ice in the polar caps to create a global ocean 36 feet deep, revealing vast plains of permafrost around the South Pole.

Mars Express found the highest clouds above any planetary surface at 62 miles.

The mission found indications of the possible presence of methane, which is attributed to active volcanism and biochemical processes on Earth.

Its highly elliptical orbit has allowed the spacecraft to look beyond Mars to monitor its two tiny moons, particularly the innermost satellite Phobos, which has been studied in unprecedented detail.

It served as a communications relay between Earth and various NASA spacecraft, including the Phoenix lander and several surface rovers.

“The Mars Express Visual Surveillance Camera, dubbed the Mars Webcam, was not intended for such a record,” ESA said in a statement.

“His main job 20 years ago was to monitor the separation of the Beagle 2 lander from the ‘MEX’ spacecraft. Once he did that and reported back, he was turned off.

“Like the surveillance cameras aboard ESA’s Juice spacecraft, which return images of instruments and solar arrays being deployed, it was not meant to be a scientific instrument.

“It was not necessary to take precise images. And yet, here we are.

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