Earth from the surface of Mars: Amazing Spirit photo turns 20 years old

20 years ago, on March 8, the NASA rover made history by taking the first picture of the Earth from the surface of another planet. The Spirit rover landed in the Martian Gusev crater in January 2004 and immediately began transmitting images of its new surroundings. A few months later, it took a stunning picture of our Earth in the night sky of Mars.

This is the first image of the Earth taken from the surface of another planet. It was recorded by NASA’s Spirit rover an hour before sunrise on the 63rd Martian day of its mission in 2004. Photo: NASA/JPL/Cornell

“Shortly before sunrise [on March 8], Spirit’s camera managed to capture Earth as a bright star, appearing much as Venus does to terrestrial observers. This marked the first photograph of Earth from another planetary surface,” says the article published on the NASA website.

It took almost 10 years before another NASA rover, Curiosity, took a second photo of Earth in the Martian sky from inside Gale Crater. Despite the fact that the image was taken from a distance of 159 million km, Curiosity is notable for the fact that the Moon is also visible near the Earth.

Photo of the Earth by Curiosity cameras from the surface of Mars. Photo: NASA

“These images — and others taken of Earth from ever-more distant vantage points over the past eight decades — provided a new perspective of our home planet’s place in our solar system,” NASA noted.

Spirit explored the Martian surface for almost six more years. It was last contacted on March 22, 2010. Curiosity, meanwhile, continues its work in Gale Crater to this day, and another rover, Perseverance — the most modern to date — explores the Jezero crater after arriving there in February 2021.

Earlier, we reported that an extremely rare phenomenon was detected in the night sky of Mars.

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