25 photos that prove you're a stowaway on a tiny, fragile spaceship we call Earth
From the ground, Earth looks like a boundless fertile plain that beckons to be explored and exploited.
But astronauts would beg - and even plead - to differ.
"You realize that people often say, 'I hope to go to heaven when I die,'" Jim Lovell, an astronaut who flew on the Apollo 8 and Apollo 13 missions to the moon, recently told Business Insider. "In reality, if you think about it, you go to heaven when you're born."
Lovell has seen first-hand that we live on a tiny rock hopelessly lost in the void. He's also quick to tell you it's the only one we've got - a fragile spaceship for 7 billion people and counting:
"You arrive on a planet that has the proper mass, has the gravity to contain water and an atmosphere, which are the very essentials for life. And you arrive on this planet that's orbiting a star just at the right distance - not too far to be too cold, or too close to be too hot - and just at the right distance to absorb that star's energy and then, with that energy, cause life to evolve here in the first place. In reality, you know, God has really given us a stage, just looking at where we were around the moon, a stage on which we perform. And how that play turns out is up to us, I guess."
Humanity has recorded photos of Earth from hundreds, thousands, millions, and even billions of miles away, some of them taken by Lovell himself.
These images not only help scientists study our dynamic world, but also understand how a habitable planet looks from afar, which aids the search for more worlds. Most importantly, however, the images underscore our peculiar existence on a mote of cosmic dust.
Take a moment to ponder 25 of the most arresting images of Earth that humankind has ever captured from space.