NASA released a stunning image of Earth today from its Cassini spacecraft, which is currently 900 million miles away orbiting Saturn.
NASA asked the people of Earth to “wave at Saturn” on July 19 at the time the photo was taken.
“We can’t see individual continents or people in this portrait of Earth, but this pale blue dot is a succinct summary of who we were on July 19,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Cassini’s picture reminds us how tiny our home planet is in the vastness of space, and also testifies to the ingenuity of the citizens of this tiny planet to send a robotic spacecraft so far away from home to study Saturn and take a look-back photo of Earth.”
The sun, temporarily blocked by Saturn from the spacecraft’s perspective, provided a rare opportunity to capture an image of the Earth and other bodies in the solar system. Typically Earth’s proximity to the sun prevents it from being photographed from deep space. The photo released today is just one ‘tile’ of a greater mosaic of Saturn and its rings that JPL scientists will be assembling in the coming weeks.
Cassini was launched in 1997 and arrived in the Saturn system in 2004. A European designed probe called Huygens launched from Cassini in 2005 and landed on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan, beaming back stunning pictures of the surface.