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Cassini probe captures view of Earth from Saturn

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{Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute}Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The blue dot on the centre-right of this photograph is us. This picture was taken by NASA’s Cassini probe on 19 July, while the spacecraft’s orbit took it into the shadow of Saturn — meaning that the Sun was eclipsed by the gas giant.

Seen from the outer Solar System, Earth’s orbit looks small and tightly wound around the Sun. To see the planet from Saturn, then, one would have to wait for the rare occasions when the Sun has just set or is about to rise and the Earth happens to hover just above the horizon.

This is similar to what happens with Mercury as seen from Earth: the planet is usually hidden in the Sun’s glare, so that to see it one has to catch it shortly after sunset or shortly before sunrise.

Cassini, which has orbited Saturn since 2004, was able to spot Earth only once before, in 2006. That image, however, was taken with ultraviolet and infrared sensors; this is the first time Cassini has taken a snapshot of our pale blue dot in its true colours.

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    Sergio Stagnaro said:

    Fascinating, breathtaking photograph, semantic image of the divinity of man. All that’s in the sky. In the hearth, distremamssingly, CVD, T2DM, and Cancer continue to be growing epidemics.

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    Neville Woolf said:

    On this picture, our Moon should be within about 6 arc minutes of the Earth, a lot fainter, and greyish
    in color. What is the angular scale on the picture, and is the image of the Moon visible?

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    Usman Paracha said:

    To see the earth from space is a dream of nearly every science lover.

    Nice shot…

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    Emily Mulholland said:

    This is a fascinating blog post, it is always humbling to see our world as such a small dot, even from an object that is relatively “close” to us in space. What conditions are it that have led to the probe being able to see our planet, and why is there a difference in the way it was able to be seen visibly this recent time? What caused the difference?

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