NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will reveal pictures of the Earth appearing as a “pale blue dot” taken from Saturn, July 19, 2013.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is currently exploring the ringed planet Saturn. The space agency announced in a press release Tuesday that the spacecraft will be providing pictures of the Earth taken from Saturn.
According to NASA, our planet appears to be a “pale blue dot” from between the rings of Saturn as the pictures will show. These pictures will be part of a mosaic or multi-image portrait of the Saturn system Cassini is composing.
“While Earth will be only about a pixel in size from Cassini’s vantage point 898 million (1.44 billion kilometers) away, the team is looking forward to giving the world a chance to see what their home looks like from Saturn,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. “We hope you’ll join us in waving at Saturn from Earth, so we can commemorate this special opportunity.”
The spacecraft will take about 15 minutes to capture these pictures of earth and will begin 5:27 p.m. EDT. This will be done while Saturn is eclipsing the sun from Cassini’s point of view, which would give the spacecraft an added opportunity to observe the planet’s rings.
Previously, Cassini composed eclipse mosaics of the Saturn system in 2006 and 2012 but this will be the first mosaic that will capture Earth in its natural blue color. This will also be the first time Cassini will capture images of the Earth and its moon through its high resolution camera. The position of the probe will allow the spacecraft to turn its camera toward the sun without damaging it.
Carolyn Porco, head of the Cassini imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., stated that July 19 would be the most appropriate date to capture these pictures as Earth would not be obstructed by Saturn or its rings. Also, during this time Cassini could spend time in Saturn’s shadow to collect both visible and infrared imagery of the planet and its ring system.