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Tiny probe snaps fresh picture of our Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot picture
The nanosatellite known as MarCO-B or Wall-E took this picture of Earth and the moon from a distance of more than 620,000 miles. (NASA / JPL-Caltech Photo)

You don’t have to fly beyond the orbit of Neptune to see our home planet as a Pale Blue Dot. One of the first nanosatellites to travel beyond Earth orbit has proven that in a new version of the view first made famous by “Cosmos” astronomer Carl Sagan.

This picture, showing Earth as a bluish speck and the moon as a faint blip, was captured by one of the two MarCO CubeSats that were launched toward Mars on May 5 as piggyback payloads for NASA’s Mars InSight mission.

Each of the MarCO (“MarCube One”) probes is roughly the size of a small briefcase, and stuffed with experimental equipment that will come into play during their Red Planet flyby in November.

Last week, the MarCO-B spacecraft (also known as Wall-E) snapped a picture with its wide-field color camera to check the deployment of its high-gain antenna.

The good news is that the pint-sized antenna has unfolded properly, as seen in the picture. The better news is that Earth and the moon showed up in the frame as well.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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