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Mars Rover Curiosity Captures Pic Of Earth

It's the Curiosity Rover's first image taken with Earth in sight. The image also shows Earth's moon.
Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 07, 2014

A year and a half ago, NASA's Curiosity Rover landed on Mars, but it wasn't until recently that it actually took a photo with Earth in sight. (Via NASA)

NASA tweeted the photo Thursday, pointing out the tiny dot it identifies as Earth. Yeah, not exactly breathtaking. (Via Twitter / @MarsCuriosity)

The reason our big blue ball looks smaller than a speck of dust in the picture is because Mars is about 99 million miles away.

But NASA says, "A human observer with normal vision, if standing on Mars, could easily see Earth and the moon as two distinct, bright evening stars."

Curiosity left Earth about eight months before it landed on Mars' surface for a planned mission of 23 months — or one Martian year. (Via NASA)

Equipped with 17 cameras, the most on any of NASA's planetary missions, Curiosity's goal is to collect rock and soil samples and take photos to determine the red planet's habitability.

National Geographic reports some of the rover's biggest accomplishments so far have been determining that there was once flowing water on Mars, measuring the radiation levels on the planet and exploring Yellowknife Bay.

And NASA hopes Curiosity's discoveries will persuade the White House to boost funding after the program saw major budget cuts last year, according to Space.com.

The rover has about 536 sols — or Martian days — left before it heads back to Earth. One sol is about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth. (Via NASA) ​

As for Mars' habitability, Curiosity revealed last July at one time the planet had the right atmospheric conditions for the possibility of life.