Cassini Photo Shows Earth, Moon, Venus, Mars, And Saturn
NASA has released a photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft yet that provides the best image yet of Saturn, along with cameo appearances by Earth and some of our neighbors:
A NASA spacecraft has revealed an unprecedented view of Saturn from space, showing the entire gas giant backlit by the sun with several of its moons and all but one of its rings, as Earth, Venus and Mars all appear as pinpricks light in the background.
The spectacular image, unveiled Tuesday (Nov. 12), is actually a mosaic of 141 wide-angle images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft taken in natural color, which mimics how human eyes might see the ringed planet. Stretching 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across, the panorama captures all of Saturn’s rings up to the ethereal E ring, the second outermost one.
The pictures that make up the mosaic were snapped on July 19, 2013 — the same day that Cassini took advantage of a rare opportunity to photograph Earth without interference from the sun, which was totally eclipsed by Saturn at the time. From its far-flung perch millions of miles away, Cassini captured amazing portraits of Earth as a pale blue dot as thousands of people on the ground waved in honor of the global picture day. [Wave at Saturn: Images from NASA’s Cosmic Photo Bomb by Cassini Probe]
“In this one magnificent view, Cassini has delivered to us a universe of marvels,” Carolyn Porco, who leads Cassini’s imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., said of the new image in a statement from NASA. “And it did so on a day people all over the world, in unison, smiled in celebration at the sheer joy of being alive on a pale blue dot.”
Here’s a copy of the same image above with the positions of the Earth, Moon, and Mars and annotated: (Click to enlarge)