Not much more than just a few pixels on the photo above, that bright dot in the twilight Martian sky is Earth, as seen by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover.
A first view of the rover’s picture of its home planet, taken from the surface of Mars, even shows Earth’s moon.
And while NASA engineers say they have removed the effects of cosmic rays on this released image, any sky-watcher on Mars would clearly be able to make out Earth and its lone natural satellite as seen here, viewing them as two bright ‘evening’ stars in the dusky skies.
The distance between Earth and Mars when Curiosity captured this surreal view some 80 minutes after local sunset on January 31, 2014, was about 99 million miles (160 million kilometers).
The actual first image of Earth taken from the surface of a world beyond the moon, it is worth mentioning, was taken by another Mars invader, NASA’s Spirit rover, which saw Earth from Mars back in 2004.
Coincidentally, Earthlings can now look back at Curiosity’s new home and see Mars in our skies too. Look toward the high southern sky before local dawn for a view of the brilliant, ruddy star. Mars will be shining just above Spica, a bright blue-white star in the constellation Virgo.