The Poetic Clarity of That ‘Pale Blue Dot’

Through Photography, Science Has Given Humanity a Sense of Itself

When the Voyager 1 space probe was launched in 1977, it was equipped with a camera to chronicle its travels through the cosmos. One of the images that astronomer Carl Sagan hoped the probe would capture was that of Earth as the probe left the confines of our solar system, leaving our little planet, a “pale blue dot,” behind. Sagan thought this image of a barely visible Earth could help humanity more precisely understand our place in a vast and endless universe. “There is perhaps no better demonstration of …

Who Should Be Our Alien Liaison?

If Extraterrestrials Make Contact, Science Fiction Has Some Advice for Selecting Humanity’s Spokesperson

On May 25, 2015, a radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia, picked up a signal coming from star HD164595 in the Hercules constellation. We don’t know much about this star located …

NASA’s Other Moonshot Helped Revolutionize Marketing

The Apollo Moon Landing Wasn't Supposed to Be Broadcast, Until a Team of Ex-Reporters Pushed for Live TV

On July 20, 1969, an estimated 600 million people watched and listened in real time as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the surface of the moon. …

What Do Raindrops Look Like in Outer Space?

How Arizona’s Monsoons Got Me Chasing Storms on Titan

Living in Tucson, Arizona—a Sonoran desert city surrounded by tall mountains—can make you obsess about rain. In 1993, I had just moved into a new office at the University of …