Mars Rover Curiosity Takes Its First Photo of Earth from the Surface of the Red Planet


Someday, when the first humans walk on Mars — after they’ve taken a commemorative “one small step for man” selfie, of course — they will turn their iPhone 27’s back towards Earth and snap a photo of their home planet that might look something like the image above.

Taken on January 31st, this is the first photo of Earth captured by the Mars Rover Curiosity from the Red Planet’s surface. It was shot 80 minutes after sunset, and if you look very closely (or scroll down to the zoomed in version) you can see two tiny specs that are Earth and the moon.

Actually, if you yourself were standing on Mars, NASA explains that “a human observer with normal vision… could easily see Earth and the moon as two distinct, bright ‘evening stars.’”

Here’s a closer look:


The image was captured by the left eye camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera (or Mastcam), and at the time it was taken, Earth was approximately 99 million miles away.

To download the full-res image for yourself (with or without the helpful labels we’ve decided to include here) head over to NASA’s JPL website by clicking here.

(via BuzzFeed)

  • Mike

    I could never grasp how far away the Moon is, this helped.

  • Larry

    Wait. My eyes were closed.

  • Sley1934

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  • Fernando Callo

    Wow…this is SOOOOO interesting.

  • Cscamp20

    how come we always get 1 snapshot from mars. What is it that they dont want us to see

  • harumph

    One snapshot? Have you been to ? There are over 1000 images from Mars posted there.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    One of those instances wherein the picture could have been a hell of a lot more interesting if we had been photobombed.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    Time to dust off that good ol’ Carl Sagan quote again.

  • Mike

    Because other snapshots are useless sciencey photos that people like you could only misinterpret and make into aliens and donuts growing from the ground?

  • Round Colour

    So from Mars you can’t see any stars?

  • William Torregrossa

    Dalek thats all.

  • sheckie

    Whatever happened to that jelly donut rock??

  • ThatGuy

    I take it you’re not a photographer?

  • ThatGuy

    Probably because the main mission is to photograph the surface of Mars, not scenic photos of Earth.

  • ThatGuy

    Fascinating photo and subject. Thank you for posting this!

  • Round Colour

    I take it you are and can enlighten me?

  • ThatGuy

    The exposure isn’t long enough to record dimmer elements like other stars. (btw: didn’t mean to offend or anything, I thought you might be one of the “moon landings were faked” crowd.)

  • Round Colour

    Thanks for the explanation but surely shouldn’t be starts brighter than planets/satellites? On the full resolution shots I can see some red spots, could this be a filter blocking them out?

  • ThatGuy

    Usually planets tend to be brighter or at least the closer ones. Venus is pretty bright as seen from Earth as is Mars. Longer exposures would show more stars. Another factor is in this photo there’s light in the horizon that overpowers other stars you might ordinarily see. I haven’t seen the full res shots so not sure about the red spots. I imagine though, that given Mars doesn’t have much of an atmosphere they might be using some filtering to compensate for lighting conditions. (might make for some interesting research)

  • Round Colour

    I see your point, after sunset when you get to see planets from earth you also see some stars. But yeah atmosphere is different and who knows what filters are using. Being NASA they could through some info! :)

  • AbinSur

    I think, I can see my house….

  • Mickey Cozzie

    I gasped out one of my biggest wows ever, totally awesome.

  • Ali

    I’m a photographer and thought this was a valid question! Seemed like it would require a pretty long exposure to get a shot of earth at 99 million miles.

  • Jason

    Because Rover hasn’t mastered the selfie yet.

  • Rick Generick

    So apparently even “journalists” are no longer expected to know the difference between specks (tiny points) and specs (eyeglasses)? Maybe we should just go back to grunting and pointing if no one is going to give a damn about language?

  • Rick Generick

    It’s obviously connected to 911 and Obama’s birth certificate.

  • guest

    There’s my house!!

  • HamzaZafar

    My dusty screen shows new planets… look closely.

  • nestazhe265

    My Uncle Caleb just got red Ford Focus ST
    by working off of a computer. try this J­u­m­p­9­9­9­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Jackson Cheese

    Awesome photo with an incredible story, but let’s point out a grammatical error to make myself feel superior. Bet you’re a lot of fun at parties.

  • Rick Generick

    Glad you were able to become an expert on my entire psyche based on one random comment. Yes, I do expect someone who uses words for a living to use them correctly.

    I don’t go to parties — too much standing around making small talk with people who act superior by pointing out that they think other people are acting superior (while the irony of that sails right over their heads). And now here you are anyway.