Pale Blue Dot, 32 years later

Pale Blue Dot Revisited (2020) – Image credits NASA/JPL-Caltech

I am in this picture.

If you are at least 32 years old, you are in this picture as well.

That tiny pale blue dot is planet Earth: it’s us.


“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.


There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. 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.”

— Carl Sagan

Picture taken on February 14, 1990, at 6,000,000,000 km from home.


One big planetary tear

Satellite image of planet Earth taken on September 3rd, 2022. Credits:

There is one big tear on planet Earth.

You read it well: when looking from space, planet Earth seems to be crying over that land that humans call Pakistan, these days.

The land that hosts most glaciers on this planet (after the poles) is now hosting one big tear that is clearly visible from space.

The land that hosts most glaciers on this planet (after the poles) has experienced an extreme weather event during March-April 2022: basically instead of Spring they already had Summer.

The temperatures have been extremely high this year on the land that hosts most glaciers on this planet (after the poles), reaching 48 Celsius degrees (118.4 ยฐF) in the cities of Nawabshah and Jacobabad on April 20, 2022.

Higher temperatures mean more humid weather and heavier rains — higher temperatures also mean that ice melts more easily.

It almost looks like the Himalaya is coming down, fellow humans of planet Earth.

Looking from space, this is a madness that is going to end soon, one way or the other.

The images below show the Sindh Province of Pakistan seen from space in September 2019 (left), and in September 2020 (right), when the heavy monsoon rains made the Indus river inundate, and almost 70,000 people had to be relocated from the places where they lived. The situation was concerning enough to be monitored from space.

Lauren Dauphin from NASA Earth Observatory used MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview to record the monsoon rains in the Sindh Province, comparing September 21st, 2019 (left) and September 21st, 2020 (right). Credits:

Almost two years later, this is the situation in the same piece of land: this time more than 30,000,000 people had to be relocated. Thirty million. A new lake has formed, tens of kilometers wide. All that area was land, and now it is under water.

Satellite images of the Sindh Province, Pakistan, in August 27, 2021 (left) vs. August 27, 2022 (right). Source:  and Wikipedia.

This is the calmest, quietest time of our lives, until us living in the Global North (mainly rich countries in the northern hemisphere of this planet) keep on extracting, burning, and selling fossil fuels.

Today is the land we call Pakistan to have 1/3 of its inhabited land submerged, but before tomorrow is going to be the land you are living in, my fellow human.

There is no escape, we all share one single planet, one single beautiful planet with a delicate biosphere that is in deep danger and requires our attention. It is the place where we are all living in: breathing its air, drinking its water, eating its food. It’s us.

Left: Copernicus Sentinel-1 view of the area affected by floods. Right: zoom into the area between Dera Murad Jamali and Larkana. The Indus River has overflowed, effectively creating a long lake, tens of kilometres wide. The blue to black colours show where the land is submerged. Credits: ESA,

There is one big tear on planet Earth,
on the land humans call “Pakistan” these days,
on the land with most glaciers after the poles,
there is one big tear that space travellers could see.

This madness must be stopped: fossil fuel production will end one day, and that day needs to happen soon.

Our planet needs our attention.

Apsis of spacetime: the Slowness of the Aphelion

 ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท

Today is the day of the year – the spacetime point of Earth’s orbit – where we are furthest from the star whose gravity shapes our orbit: today we are at aphelion, the day when planet Earth is at the maximum distance from the Sun.

And since an orbiting body moves at maximum speed at the closest point, and at minimum speed at the furthest point from the system’s center of gravity, today we can enjoy an orbital speed of about 500 meters per second slower than the average.

Today we are traveling in interplanetary space at only 29.3 km/s, against the 30.3 km/s of perihelion (which occurs in early January).

The cosmic advice of the day is: take everything slowly,
enjoy these 500 m/s of cosmic slowness compared to the average.


On heat waves and new emotions

Good morning from the Vanguard of Climate Collapse in the rich part of the world: the Iberian Peninsula.

This post was written as we were just coming out of a heat wave about ten days long: a heat wave that happened even before the solstice, which, I remember, marks the time of the year when the incidence of sunlight on the surface of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth is maximum, ergo: we were still in spring, here, during the first heat wave of 2022.

I will not dwell on the known and now almost banal effects of prolonged heat waves, but on some new emotions and sensations that, I think, will accompany us from here to the distant future. As a famous meme goes: This isn’t the hottest summer of our lives: this is the coolest summer of the rest of our lives.

๐Ÿ) ๐‚๐ž๐ฅ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐š๐ฅ ๐ƒ๐ข๐ฌ๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง

After a few days of rising accumulated heat in the atmosphere, the sky becomes saturated. The color of the sky fades and gives way to a diffuse gray. It looks like fog, but it’s not; they look like clouds, but they are not clouds; it is a hood of heat that pervades the whole lower part of the atmosphere, the one in which you live and move and breathe, and creates a very strange and disorienting effect in the sky. The sunlight is dimmed, but the solar heat is not. The full Moon stands out against an intense gray sky, which should obscure the light, but does not. The sky is suddenly disorienting.

๐Ÿ) ๐‚๐ซ๐ฒ๐จ-๐„๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ก๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐š

When the heat wave goes away, your body feels a pre-limbic joy, which does not go through any kind of rational processing and is not containable. In a directly proportional way to the lowering of temperature, a physical-spiritual euphoria pervades you: the sky turns blue, the Moon is clearly seen with its craters, the air enters your body as if it were water from a primeval river waterfall. You can’t help but rejoice, feel alive and livable again.

๐Ÿ‘) ๐†๐ž๐ง๐ž๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐š๐ฅ ๐’๐ก๐š๐ฆ๐ž

The heat wave is hard for all humans: but for those at the extreme end of the age distribution (the youngest and the oldest), it is harder. A generally dormant consciousness begins to simmer during the spring heat wave: while the elderly have lived a long life (precisely by the definition of the elderly himself), children have a whole life ahead of them (precisely by the definition of the children herself). The kind of life they will have stands out mercilessly before your eyes, and childhood discomfort is very difficult to sustain without anguish and shame, shame proportional to the number of Earth orbits already lived. Here on the Iberian Peninsula, children collapse during heat waves. Circulatory disturbances, headaches, dizziness, fainting, convulsions among elementary school children are a steeply rising phenomenon.

Front page of the newspaper “El Pais”, Title: “Reduced hours or vaporizers in the classrooms: measures to protect pupils from the hight temperatures”.
Subtitle: “The communities most affected by the heat wave act to prevent fainting, headaches, circulatory diseases among children”
Figure caption: “Mothers refresh their daughters as they exit the school, in Cordoba.”

Humanity adapts to everything, and quickly forgets everything.

I thank this 2022 spring heat wave, which a) reminds me of the discomfort of 2021 heat waves, which I had wisely removed; and b) reminds me that my adaptability is already very close to its limit.

This was the longest heat wave I have ever experienced in my 39 years of life on Earth.

Good luck to us: we will need it along with a lot of action; and the sooner we start, the less the worse it will be.

June 17th 2022, Madrid, Planet Earth.

Cosmic Home

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ทย ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

This is home.

As seen from Mars, after sunset.

There is a little rover with a camera on Mars — humans sent it, and it took this photograph of all of us, 160 millions kilometers away.

We all are the “evening star” in someone else’s sky.

We all are just a tiny tiny dot in the immensity of space.

We all share the same planet.

Earth and the Moon as seen by Curiosity on Mars –photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/TAMU
Photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/TAMU
Photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/TAMU


Galactic Diamond

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Mosaic of four distinct lines of sight toward of our galaxy — the Milky Way — photographed from Earth over the course of two years by Alvin Wu.

From Earth’s northern hemisphere, the galaxy was photographed from China: from Qinghai in the summer and from Sichuan in the winter. From Earth’s southern hemisphere, photographs of the galaxy were taken from New Zealand: from Lake Pukaki in the winter and from Lake Wanaka in the summer.

Result: a single composition that contains a couple of hundred billion stars and immense piles of dust and gas, our entire cosmic neighborhood — ring-shaped.

At the top of the ring the galactic bulge is shining, and two special little glitters shine at the top: the planet Jupiter reflecting the light of our star the Sun, and Antares, an orange supergiant star almost a thousand times the size of our Sun. The region of Orion is visible at the bottom of the ring, and within the ring, our neighboring galaxies are visible: the two clouds of Magellan on the right, and Andromeda on the left.

I have no words to describe what this photographic composition makes me feel. The original words by the author: “It is an extreme romance of the Universe” – it is an extreme love story with the Universe.


Original post:

See also APOD:

Cosmic eyes

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

“Little” Cosmic Eyes: the difference a century of human advance can make.

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 1398 as seen from Earth: today (ESO telescopes, photo on the left) and about 100 years ago (Telescope of the Palomar Observatory, photo on the right).

Terrestrial photography of NGC 1398: after and before (a century of human advance).

The photons arriving on Earth are the same; we have changed.

Image of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1398 taken with the FORS2 instrument mounted in the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), in Chile. Credits: ESO. Original link here. By clicking on the image you can access the high resolution file (about 20 MB).

This galaxy is just one of the trillions of galaxies out there, each with its own hundreds of billions of stars like our own star, the Sun. About 65 million light-years from our galaxy, NGC 1398 is relatively close, “just behind the corner”, cosmically speaking.

We are tiny.


Earth Day

This is home.
Questa รจ la nostra casa.
Compartimos todos el mismo planeta.
Nossa casinha cรณsmica azul.

Earth Dayย is everyday.

Our planet as seen by the Earth Polychromatic Camera on the DSCOVR spacecraft.

A global selfie on our way to planet Mercury

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ

The most beautiful things happen in space, which is where we all belong.

Ten days ago, humans took a series of global selfies through a camera onboard BepiColombo, which is a spacecraft on its way toward planet Mercury.

Video composed by a series of global selfies of humans taken from the BepiColombo spacecraft during its closest encounter with planet Earth, on 10 April 2020. The closest images were taken at less than 13 000 km from Earth’s surface. Credits: ESA/JAXA

Humans from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the ย Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have launched the space mission BepiColombo from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, on 20 October 2018.

BepiColombo has to travel for seven terrestrial years across the interplanetary space, before reaching its planned destination: the insertion in orbit a few hundreds kilometers above the surface of planet Mercury, the closest planet to our star, the Sun.

During its journey toward planet Mercury, BepiColombo will adjust its orbit several times by close encounters with planets of the solar system. During each of these encounters, called flyby, a little exchange of energy between BepiColombo and the planet happens, provoking a slow down or a speed up of the spacecraft relative to the Sun speed.

The first flyby of BepiColombo has just happened around our planet, Earth.

On April 10, 2020, BepiColombo approached Earth and said a definitive “goodbye”, slowing down a necessary bit (about 5 km/s relative to the Sun) to reach its next destination: planet Venus, where a double flyby will be performed in 2020 and 2021; the end of the journey of BepiColombo, the final orbit insertion around Mercury, will only happen in 2025. Space is very big, distances are very large.

You can see below the video of BepiColombo Earth’s flyby, composed by more than 200 pictures of all of us:

Video composed by the images taken by the BepiColombo space mission while saying goodbye to planet Earth, after a flyby where a bit of energy was exchanged, adjusting BepiColombo’s future orbit that will bring it toward planet Mercury in 2025. Credits: ESA/JAXA

The complete set of images taken by BepiColombo during the Earth flyby of 9-10-11 April 2020 can be found here.

This is one of the last images of planet Earth as seen by BepiColombo: a crescent tiny planet Earth which soon will get lost in the darkness of the Cosmos.

The last images of planet Earth as seen by BepiColombo on its way to planet Mercury. Credits: ESA/JAXA

Together, humans can maneuver space probes by carefully planning tiny exchanges of energy between planets and the probes themselves. United for the ultimate sake of knowledge.

This is proof that, united, humans can do the most fantastic things. By cooperating and not competing, there is noting we can not achieve.

We all share the same planet, we all belong to space.

The Good Circulation of Wisdom

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ

รlvaro Reinoso is an artist I met at the conference in honor of the 20th birthday of XMM-Newton, my favorite satellite.

รlvaro was at the conference to draw faces, impressions, and scientific talks which were then projected on big screens, and delighted scientists and visitors during coffee breaks.

Since then I follow him on twitter, where he shares everyday scenes filled with his fantasy; do you want an example of what it means to enrich existence, reality, what exists? Visit the page of รlvaro.

Yesterday he delighted me with this post, which with his permission I reproduce here: as I love รlvaro’s style of drawing, I loved the idea, and in general I cannot resist a well-made scheme.

How to live well during the quarantine period: tips for a good Circulation of Wisdom

Circulation of Wisdom in difficult moments: let everything you can control enter your heart (-> courage), and leave everything you cannot control out of your mind (-> calm).

The idea behind the Circulation of Wisdom in difficult times is as follows:

  • letting go of everything that cannot be controlled through the mind, to gain calm;

  • let everything you can control enter through your heart, to gain courage.
How to circulate wisdom well: let everything you can’t control get out of your mind, getting calm; let everything you can control enter your heart, gaining courage.

It is possible to summarize the strategy of Good Circulation of Wisdom in a scheme, where you can list all the things that you cannot control, and what you can do to get calm; and all the things that you can control, and what can be done to gain courage.

Example of things I cannot control:

  • the news;
  • social network trolling;
  • alarm and stress level of other people;
  • how long is all this going to last;
  • the number of whatsapp messages I receive every day;

…and what can I do to gain calm (filtering out through the mind):

  • read the news only once or twice per day;
  • visit social network profiles which publish positive content;
  • try to calm down others, whenever I have the energy to do so;
  • do not count the days;
  • take care about the messages of the people I love;

Example of things I can control:

  • wash my hands;
  • take care about the norms of social confinement;
  • take care when leaving the house;
  • take quality time with the ones I love, and be supportive of others;
  • take some time all for myself;

…and what can I do to gain courage (flowing in through the heart):

  • understand that rituals can be boring but are necessary;
  • think about people in the hospital;
  • understand that prudence is the intelligence of love;
  • look at myself in the mirror and ask what can I do for my neighbours and society.
  • stay positive;

These days, each of us has various things under control and various things out of control; some are common to everyone (“How long will this story last?”), others are special, individual (“When will my dear friend be released from the hospital?”). For this reason, รlvaro leaves us with a free scheme, to help elaborating our own personal strategy to obtain Calm and Courage, the two fundamental ingredients for a good Circulation of Wisdom.

Top left: “Things I cannot control”; top right: “Things I can control”; bottom left: “What can I do to gain calm”; bottom right: “What can I do to gain courage”.

So what to say: calm and courage, people!