|Photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute|
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
All of Us as Seen from Saturn
There we are, all of us, on that bright blue dot as seen by the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. That's our family portrait as captured for only the third time from the outer solar system. The earth and moon system floating in the blackness as seen from 898 million miles away.That's us, the brightest spot off to the right below the rings and above the bright band crossing the image. Fainter points of light in the photo are nearby stars.
The view includes the Saturn's dark side with rings E, F, and G visible.
The group picture was taken on July 19, 2013, and was billed as a group photo social event and celebration for all the people of earth. Everyone who could was supposed to stop and wave for the camera at a specific time that evening. Unfortunately for me, I was captured driving home at that moment. Ah well.
Cassini made this picture with her wide-angle camera as part of a composite of 33 pictures covering all of Saturn's complex rings and the gas giant itself. This is the one and only image in which we appear. It's unique and well worth taking a few minutes to ponder.
The Cassini robot has been doing her thing at Saturn since 2004, collecting tons of scientific data and fantastic imagery of Saturn and its many moons. Back in 2004, Cassini successfully dropped off the Huygens probe to check out the lay of the land on Saturn's fascinating moon Titan, not only Saturn's biggest moon but also the only moon the solar system has with a thick atmosphere and weather. Huygens carried out its mission quickly and successfully.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. Good work everybody! Thanks for giving us a great group photo ... and a little eye-opening, awe inducing perspective.