“There is perhaps no better a demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world,” American astronomer Carl Sagan wrote the first time he saw Pale Blue Dot, a photograph taken of Earth from a record six billion kilometres away, in 1990. Nowadays, of course, such images are in great supply, providing momentary doses of realism and perspective via Instagram whenever needed. Here we select three of our favourite accounts for space-themed wonderment, be it on Earth, moon or Mars.
There's no greater authority on all things space-related than NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, founded in the USA in 1958. So, when in 2013, the organisation announced that it was launching its very own Instagram account to celebrate all of the remarkable discoveries it stumbles across from day to day, space aficionados around the world were naturally delighted. The images are spellbinding, of course – all glowing orb-like planets, glittering constellations, and sneak peeks inside of space-bound aircraft. What's most appealing of all, however, is the captions: detailing the newest satellite observations and developments in space travel, explaining technological advancements to the everyman, and even throwing in the odd cute reference to the moon 'photobombing' photographs of Earth.
It’s been almost 50 years since the Apollo Program first succeeded in landing American astronauts, namely Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon, and yet the photographs documenting this monumentous occasion in aeronautic history are still as fascinating now as they were in the late 1960s. From a black and white snapshot of the crew of the Apollo 14, suited and booted and ambling down the halls of NASA towards their Saturn V Rocket, to the first startlingly strange photographs of the moon’s dusty white surface, @apolloprogram is dedicated to sharing the photographic evidence of this exciting with with the world, via Instagram. And, devoted as we are to all the vivid Kodachrome tones of vintage photographs, not to mention cheeky snapshots of astronauts larking around in space, we can’t resist.
The aptly named 'Curiosity' rover landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, and it has since been tirelessly roaming the surface of the planet in a Christopher Columbus-like mission of enormous scale. Manoeuvring around obstacles and diving into holes, the rover takes photographs of everything it encounters in a bid to gain some sense of what the strange planet might look like up close – and these, in turn, are disseminated to the world via @marscuriosity. Mad Max-esque landscapes, undulating sand dunes and the occasional selfie ensue.