28 of the most iconic, jaw-dropping photos of the Earth and the moon from space that will make you feel puny and insignificant

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From the ground, Earth looks like a boundless fertile plain that beckons to be explored and exploited.

But astronauts beg and even plead to differ.

“People often say, ‘I hope to go to heaven when I die.’ In reality, if you think about it, you go to heaven when you’re born,” Jim Lovell, an astronaut who flew on the Apollo 8 and Apollo 13 missions around the moon, previously told Business Insider. “God has really given us a stage […] on which we perform. And how that play turns out is up to us.”

Humanity has recorded photos of Earth from hundreds, thousands, millions, and even billions of miles away. The pictures help scientists study our dynamic world and understand what a habitable planet looks like from afar — a critical part of the search for alien worlds.

Most importantly, however, such images of Earth from space underscore our peculiar existence.

Carl Sagan, an astrophysicist and popularizer of science, was born on November 9, 1934. He died on December 20, 1996, two years after he famously juxtaposed human history as a bloody struggle upon a mote of cosmic dust in his book “Pale Blue Dot.”

In honor of Sagan, take a moment to ponder these 27 arresting images of Earth that humankind has captured from outer space.

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A few rare satellites enjoy a full view of Earth from thousands or even a million miles away.

Taken by: Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) spacecraft

Date: April 9, 2015

NASA and NOAA created this composite image using photos taken by Suomi NPP, a weather satellite that orbits Earth 14 times a day. You can see the Joalane tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean (top right).

Their unending gaze helps us monitor the health of our world while catching rare alignments of the sun, moon, and Earth.

Taken by: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-16 (GOES-16)

Date: January 15, 2017

GOES-16 launched on November 19, 2016, and orbits about 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above Earth — a position called geostationary orbit. This allows the satellite to stay above the same spot and monitor changes in the atmosphere, ground, and ocean over time. The spacecraft regularly sees the moon and uses …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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