Library of Congress archive celebrates Sagan, of 'Cosmos'

Now billions of people on our "Pale Blue Dot" can take a look at the historical letters, studies, and musings of pioneering space scientist Carl Sagan.

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Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
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This recent image was taken from roughly the same vantage point that inspired Carl Sagan to coin the phrase "Pale Blue Dot." NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The late astrobiologist Carl Sagan eloquently referred to Earth, in the view from Saturn, as a "Pale Blue Dot."

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us," he wrote in his 1994 "Pale Blue Dot" book. "On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives."

Sagan is known for making the complexities of space and the universe accessible to ordinary people. As a consultant to NASA, he helped lead the US space program since its inception. He briefed Apollo astronauts before they jetted to the Moon, and also helped design and manage several NASA spacecrafts. Besides "Pale Blue Dot," he also wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning "The Dragons of Eden" and created the TV series "Cosmos."

Now, much of his writings, studies, and letters are open to the public at the US Library of Congress. The library announced Wednesday that it was opening "The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive." The archive is sponsored by "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, who is an executive producer of the upcoming TV series "Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey," which builds off Sagan's original series.

Within the Library of Congress collection, there are 1,705 archival boxes of materials that were collected by MacFarlane. Included in this trove are Sagan's early notebooks and report cards; correspondence with other scientists and other major figures; scientific paper drafts; books; articles; lab research; and historical documents from the first 40 years of the Space Age.

"It is exciting that the Sagan-Druyan Archive is joining other great collections of scientific knowledge from various time periods that are here at the national library," Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement. "Now the information it contains will be available for the inspiration of the next generation of scientific thinkers and will represent an ongoing memorial to the great 'science exciter,' Carl Sagan."

Sagan was born in 1934 and died in 1996 after suffering from a rare bone marrow disease. He is survived by his wife Ann Druyan, who co-wrote "Cosmos" and several books with Sagan.

In the "Pale Blue Dot," Sagan wrote, you find on the dot, "The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar,' every 'supreme leader,' every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there -- on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."