This simple image of Earth from NASA is stark, beautiful, and impressive

We’ll see some amazing photos from NASA’s Artemis I moon mission. We will feast our eyes on lunar craters. May we catch glorious Sunrise. But today I am here to quietly blow my heart out over a simple black and white photograph of Earth as seen by the Orion spacecraft two days after launch.

Now, you know that NASA finally sent its long-delayed crew Artemis I mission to space for a trip around the moon. You may have seen Some opinions of Orion From our blue planet. I saw those too, and was amazed, but this new photo struck me in a different way. I stopped. I traced the abstract swirls of clouds. I stared into the darkness of space. I didn’t feel small. It felt like the universe expanded.

Orion captured the scene using a navigation camera, one of a swarm of cameras on board. It’s not the highest resolution image of Earth. It’s not the hottest. It’s not the most luxurious, and therein lies its beauty. It conveys our place in the universe in the way photographer Robert Frank depicted the culture of America. It’s an accidental shot, any moment of any day.

I don’t know if we are alone in the universe. I don’t think we are. The only way we will find out is by reaching beyond our world. The age of Artemis has begun, but it’s not just about the moon. It’s not even just that humans will reach Mars one day. It is about seeing ourselves as local, global and global.

It’s a simple black and white image of Earth seen from a wayfinding camera on a spacecraft. I am out there somewhere, invisible but present. Everyone I loved and will love is there. We are small. We are everything.