Image shows Earth and the moon as tiny specks floating in space

It really is a small world: Earth and the moon are shown as tiny specks in the dark expanse of space in a fascinating image taken from 620,000 miles away

  • A tiny satellite bound for Mars has captured an incredible image of the Earth and the moon against space
  • The stunning shot shows both our home planet and its natural satellite as tiny dots floating in darkness
  • The image has been released in homage to Voyager 1 which released an iconic image of Earth back in 1990 
  • The CubeSat that took the picture is one of two which will transmit Mars' geological data back to Earth

By Joe Pinkstone For Mailonline

Published: 06:17 EDT, 16 May 2018 | Updated: 07:17 EDT, 16 May 2018

A tiny satellite bound for Mars has captured an incredible image of the Earth and the moon that may leave you feeling insignificant against the backdrop of the cosmos.

The stunning shot shows both our home planet and its natural satellite as tiny dots floating in the eternal darkness of space.

Earth appears as a tiny blue blob on the right of the image, while our orbiting moon is an almost indistinguishable speck to the left in the image taken from 621,371 miles (1 million kilometers) away. 

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TEarth appears as a tiny blue blob on the right of the image, while our orbiting moon is an almost indistinguishable speck to the left in the image taken from 621,371 miles (1 million kilometers) away
The Earth and the moon are marked in this stunning image taken by two tiny CubeSats launched by Nasa in May
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Earth appears as a tiny blue blob on the right of the image, while our orbiting moon is an almost indistinguishable speck to the left in the image taken from 621,371 miles (1 million kilometers) away.  The positions are marked in the right image

The picture was taken by one of two tiny CubeSats that were launched together on May 5 as part of the InSight Lander project and are now heading to Mars.

One of the CubeSats, called Marco-b and affectionately known as 'Wall-E', used a wide angle 'fisheye' lens to snap the photo on May 9.

Capturing the Earth and the moon was a fortunate coincidence, as the image was only intended to test whether the craft's antennae had deployed correctly.

Nasa decided to release the image taken by the miniature satellites in homage to one of the space exploration programmes most famous predecessors, the Voyager mission.

Voyager 1 and 2 took advantage of a once in a lifetime event where a spacecraft could use the gravitational pull from different celestial bodies to visit all four giant outer planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

In 1990, Voyager 1 took an iconic image which captured Earth and the solar system from an incredible distance.

Speaking about the latest shot, Andy Klesh, Marco's chief engineer at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, said: 'Consider it our homage to Voyager.'

'CubeSats have never gone this far into space before, so it's a big milestone,' Dr Klesh added. 'Both our CubeSats are healthy and functioning properly. We're looking forward to seeing them travel even farther.' 

Capturing the Earth and the moon was a fortunate coincidence as the image was only intended to see if the antennae had deployed correctly. The image was taken by one of the CubeSats, called Marco-b (and affectionately known as 'Wall-E') that used a fisheye camera to snap the photo on May 9
Capturing the Earth and the moon was a fortunate coincidence as the image was only intended to see if the antennae had deployed correctly. The image was taken by one of the CubeSats, called Marco-b (and affectionately known as 'Wall-E') that used a fisheye camera to snap the photo on May 9

Capturing the Earth and the moon was a fortunate coincidence as the image was only intended to see if the antennae had deployed correctly. The image was taken by one of the CubeSats, called Marco-b (and affectionately known as 'Wall-E') that used a fisheye camera to snap the photo on May 9

A Nasa engineer tests a Mars Cube One (MarCO) satellite before launch. They will follow the InSight Lander to Mars as Nasa wants to see if the small satellites can relay information back to Earth from the car-sized satellite that is analysing the geology of the red planet
A Nasa engineer tests a Mars Cube One (MarCO) satellite before launch. They will follow the InSight Lander to Mars as Nasa wants to see if the small satellites can relay information back to Earth from the car-sized satellite that is analysing the geology of the red planet

A Nasa engineer tests a Mars Cube One (MarCO) satellite before launch. They will follow the InSight Lander to Mars as Nasa wants to see if the small satellites can relay information back to Earth from the car-sized satellite that is analysing the geology of the red planet

The tiny satellites will follow the InSight Lander to Mars, as Nasa wants to see if the small satellites can relay information back to Earth. 

If they survive the extreme cold of deep space and successfully send the data, it may prove that smaller satellites have a place in space exploration alongside much larger, bulkier crafts. 

Formally known as Marco-b and its twin Marco-a, the two briefcase-sized objects are the only CubeSats to ever be launched into deep space.

Most never go beyond the orbit of Earth, they generally stay below 497 miles (800 kilometres) above the planet. 

This artist's rendition of the two Mars-bound cubesats flying through space shows what the two CubeSats wil llook like in transit.If they survive the extreme cold of deep space, it may prove that smaller satellites have a place in space exploration alongside much larger, bulkier crafts
This artist's rendition of the two Mars-bound cubesats flying through space shows what the two CubeSats wil llook like in transit.If they survive the extreme cold of deep space, it may prove that smaller satellites have a place in space exploration alongside much larger, bulkier crafts

This artist's rendition of the two Mars-bound cubesats flying through space shows what the two CubeSats wil llook like in transit.If they survive the extreme cold of deep space, it may prove that smaller satellites have a place in space exploration alongside much larger, bulkier crafts

WHAT ARE CUBESATS?

A cubesat is a miniature satellite that has been sent into space.  

Nasa defines them as a class of nanosatellites that use a standard size and form factor.

Each unit, or U, is 10cm x 10cm x 10cm (4 in x 4 in x 4 in) and the cubes can be pieced together to create larger structures. 

These can include 1.5, 2, 3, 6, and even 12U objects. 

They are often made of commercial off the shelf products and are a low-cost option for space exploration. 

Cubesats have a variety of functions. The small satellites are intended for low Earth orbit (LEO) where they perform a number of scientific research functions and explore new space technologies. 

They were originally developed to teach university students about satellites, CubeSats are now a major commercial technology, providing data on everything from shipping routes to environmental changes.

Each unit, or U, is 10cm x 10cm x 10cm (4 in x 4 in x 4 in) and the cubes can be pieced together to create larger structures. These can include 1.5, 2, 3, 6, and even 12U objects
Each unit, or U, is 10cm x 10cm x 10cm (4 in x 4 in x 4 in) and the cubes can be pieced together to create larger structures. These can include 1.5, 2, 3, 6, and even 12U objects

Each unit, or U, is 10cm x 10cm x 10cm (4 in x 4 in x 4 in) and the cubes can be pieced together to create larger structures. These can include 1.5, 2, 3, 6, and even 12U objects

Nasa still tracks the Voyager satellites. The Voyagers have set numerous records since they were launched in 1977, including Voyager 1 becoming the only spacecraft to have entered interstellar space
Nasa still tracks the Voyager satellites. The Voyagers have set numerous records since they were launched in 1977, including Voyager 1 becoming the only spacecraft to have entered interstellar space
This image from 1990 shows the scale of space and the insignificance of Earth. Nasa launched the Voyager 1 spacecraft on September 5 1977, and the Voyager 2 on August 20 1977
This image from 1990 shows the scale of space and the insignificance of Earth. Nasa launched the Voyager 1 spacecraft on September 5 1977, and the Voyager 2 on August 20 1977

Nasa decided to release the image taken by the minuscule satellites in homage to one of the space exploration programmes most famous predecessors, the Voyager missions. In 1990, Voyager 1 took an iconic image which captured Earth and the Solar system from an incredible distance

The Voyager crafts have set numerous records since they were launched in 1977, including Voyager 1 becoming the only spacecraft to have entered interstellar space.

Nasa launched the Voyager 1 spacecraft on September 5 1977, and the Voyager 2 on August 20 1977.

Each spacecraft carries a golden record on board – a record that includes sounds, pictures and messages of Earth. 

Mr Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for Nasa's Science Mission Directorate said: 'I believe that few missions can ever match the achievements of the Voyager spacecraft during their four decades of exploration.

'They have educated us to the unknown wonders of the universe and truly inspired humanity to continue to explore our solar system and beyond.' 

Despite being more than 40 years old, the Voyagers are still transmitting sporadically, but Nasa expects it will go silent by 2030. Voyager 1 is currently 13 billion miles away from Earth, travelling northward through space. It's sibling, Voyager 2, is now 11 billion miles from Earth, travelling south towards the interstellar region
Despite being more than 40 years old, the Voyagers are still transmitting sporadically, but Nasa expects it will go silent by 2030. Voyager 1 is currently 13 billion miles away from Earth, travelling northward through space. It's sibling, Voyager 2, is now 11 billion miles from Earth, travelling south towards the interstellar region

Despite being more than 40 years old, the Voyagers are still transmitting sporadically, but Nasa expects it will go silent by 2030. Voyager 1 is currently 13 billion miles away from Earth, travelling northward through space. It's sibling, Voyager 2, is now 11 billion miles from Earth, travelling south towards the interstellar region

Despite being more than 40 years old, the Voyagers are still transmitting sporadically, but Nasa expects it will go silent by 2030. 

Voyager 1 is currently 13 billion miles away from Earth, travelling northward through space. 

It's sibling, Voyager 2, is now 11 billion miles from Earth, travelling south towards the interstellar region. 

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