With the advent of space exploration images of the Earth from outer space became available. Among them is one of the most published images of all time – the Blue Marble Earth – of which there exist already several versions. These particular images evoke the idea of us looking at ourselves from a cosmic perspective, being thus invested with a symbolic dimension, in addition to scientific or technical ones. Yet, is this symbolic dimension present in the discourse of science communication that uses these images? With this question in mind, we examine publications at the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website that make use of these images. Using the perspective of Dominique Maingueneau‟s discourse analysis, we critically examine the various discursive elements present on the site in order to characterize: (i) the type of science communication discourse used, and (ii) the specific discourse of publications with Blue Marble images. The site has elements of a very credible discourse while, at the same time, being relaxed and close to the reader. The specific publications which portray the Blue Marble Earth seem to reinforce the symbolic dimension of these images.

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The blue marble
A discourse analysis of images of the earth published on the APOD website

Joana Brás Varanda Marquesa   Universidade Federal de São Carlos - PPGE

Luciana Salazar Salgado   Universidade Federal de São Carlos - DL/PPGL

With the advent of space exploration images of the Earth from outer space became available. Among them is one of the most published images of all time – the Blue Marble Earth – of which there exist already several versions. These particular images evoke the idea of us looking at ourselves from a cosmic perspective, being thus invested with a symbolic dimension, in addition to scientific or technical ones. Yet, is this symbolic dimension present in the discourse of science communication that uses these images? With this question in mind, we examine publications at the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website that make use of these images. Using the perspective of Dominique Maingueneau‟s discourse analysis, we critically examine the various discursive elements present on the site in order to characterize: (i) the type of science communication discourse used, and (ii) the specific discourse of publications with Blue Marble images. The site has elements of a very credible discourse while, at the same time, being relaxed and close to the reader. The specific publications which portray the Blue Marble Earth seem to reinforce the symbolic dimension of these images.

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