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Cassini imaging lead hopes for planet-wide celebration of the Pale Blue Dot

Posted on June 20, 2013
This simulated view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft on July 19, 2013, shows the expected positions of Saturn and Earth around the time Cassini is taking Earth's picture.

This simulated view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on July 19, 2013, shows the expected positions of Saturn and Earth around the time Cassini is taking Earth’s picture.

On July 19, 2013, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will be turned to image Saturn and its entire ring system during a total eclipse of the sun, as it has done twice before during its previous 9 years in orbit. But this time, the images that will be collected have been specifically designed for something very special. They will capture, in natural color, a glimpse of our own planet next to Saturn and its rings, during an event that will be the first time Earthlings know in advance their picture will be taken from a billion miles away.

‘It will be a day’, says Cassini imaging team leader, Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute in Boulder Colorado, ‘for all the world to celebrate.’

‘Ever since we caught sight of the Earth among the rings of Saturn in September 2006 in a mosaic that has become one of Cassini’s most beloved images, I have wanted to do it all over again, only better’, said Porco. ‘And this time, I wanted to turn the entire event into an opportunity for everyone around the globe, at the same time, to savor the uniqueness of our beautiful blue-ocean planet and the preciousness of the life on it.’ Porco was involved in co-initiating and executing the famous “Pale Blue Dot” image of Earth taken by NASA’s Voyager 1 from beyond the orbit of Neptune in 1990.

“While Earth will be only about a pixel in size from Cassini’s vantage point 898 million miles [1.44 billion kilometers] away, the Cassini 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 in Pasadena, Calif. “With this advance notice, we hope you’ll join us in waving at Saturn from Earth, so we can commemorate this special opportunity.”

Read more at: Phys.org

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