The earth feels pretty large, and we feel pretty tiny living in it.
But we rarely, if ever, stop to think about the vast beyond. And we should!
“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world,” former astronomer Carl Sagan has said. “To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known,” Sagan wrote in his book “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.”
So, just how small is planet Earth really compared with the rest of outer space? These photos will help put our planet in perspective.
This humbling photo taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in 2013 shows what Earth, indicated by the tiny white arrow, looks like from 898 million miles away.
Here, North America is superimposed next to Jupiter's Great Red Spot. As you can see in this to-scale image, Jupiter's giant storm would completely swallow the entire continent.
Saturn's rings are a beautiful spectacle of the cosmos, but they look much better on Saturn than on Earth.
Saturn's rings are so large that you can fit six Earths across them. The millions of ice particles that make up these rings are only as large as a few feet across for comparison.
Mars could become a second home for humanity, but it's only a little more than half the size of Earth. North America, for example, just barely fits on one of Mars' hemispheres.
The tallest volcanic mountain in the entire solar system is Olympus Mons on Mars. If it were on Earth, it would completely cover the state of Arizona.
Jupiter's moon Io is the most geologically active object in the solar system with more than 400 active volcanoes. North America has about 100 for comparison.
Jupiter's watery moon Europa is four times smaller than Earth, but scientists think it has more water than all of Earth's oceans combined. A sphere containing all of Europa's water would be 300 miles wider than one with all of Earth's water.
The sun contains 99.86% of the mass in our solar system and is large enough to fit 1.3 million Earths inside of it. Pretty big, right?
Not as big as our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Look just south of the center of our galaxy and you'll see a small spot labelled 'Sun'. That's where our tiny solar system lives amid the other 100 billion stars in our galaxy.
That red dot is where our galaxy lives within a supercluster of galaxies called Laniakea, meaning 'immeasurable heaven'. We'll leave you with these eloquent words from Sagan: 'We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.'
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