Camera Orbiting Mars Snaps Photo of Earth



For the first time, earthlings can see what our planet looks like from Mars, thanks to a camera aboard NASA's Mars Global Surveyor that snapped a picture of Earth from this vantage point.
The photograph, released by NASA on Thursday, also includes a view of the giant planet Jupiter and some of its larger moons, because Earth and Jupiter were in alignment when the picture was taken on May 8.

Mars Global Surveyor has been taking pictures of the Martian surface for more than six years, so the photograph of Earth was a break from routine.

"Taking this picture allowed us to look up from that work of exploring Mars and take in a more panoramic view," Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego, who operates the Global Surveyor's camera, said in a statement. "This image gives us a new perspective on that neighborhood, one in which we can see our own planet as one among many."

The image shows Earth in a sort of half-moon -- or half-Earth -- phase, with the bright area at the top of the image showing clouds over central and eastern North America, a darker area including Central America and the Gulf of Mexico and a display of clouds over northern South America.

The image also shows the Earth-facing hemisphere of the Moon, as well as Jupiter and three of its moons: Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa.

The image is available online at