Picture of the Day: Earth from the Dark Side of Saturn
EARTH FROM THE DARK SIDE OF SATURN
In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame.
The dark side of Saturn, its bright limb, the main rings, the F ring, and the G and E rings are clearly seen; the limb of Saturn and the F ring are overexposed. The “breaks” in the brightness of Saturn’s limb are due to the shadows of the rings on the globe of Saturn, preventing sunlight from shining through the atmosphere in those regions. The E and G rings have been brightened for better visibility.
Earth, which is 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away in this image, appears as a blue dot at center right; the moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side. An arrow indicates their location. The other bright dots nearby are stars.
This is only the third time ever that Earth has been imaged from the outer solar system. The acquisition of this image marked the first time that inhabitants of Earth knew in advance that their planet was being imaged. That opportunity allowed people around the world to join together in social events to celebrate the occasion.
The image was taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 19, 2013 at a distance of approximately 753,000 miles (1.212 million kilometers) from Saturn.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.