News

Smaller, paler Earth unveiled in new NASA photo

Smaller, paler Earth unveiled in new NASA photo

The wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn's rings and planet Earth and its moon in the same frame in this rare image taken on July 19, 2013 courtesy of NASA. Photo: Reuters/NASA/Handout

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – A robotic space probe nearly 900 million miles from Earth turned its gaze away from Saturn and its entourage of moons to take a picture of its home planet, NASA said on Monday.

The resulting image shows Earth as a very small, blue-tinged dot – paler and tinier than in other photos – overshadowed by the giant Saturn’s rings in foreground.

“We can’t see individual continents or people in this portrait of Earth, but this pale blue dot is a succinct summary of who we were on July 19,” Linda Spilker, Cassini spacecraft lead scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

Cassini snapped the picture on Friday, the same day NASA’s Mercury-orbiting MESSENGER probe imaged Earth as well. In that picture, Earth and the moon take up less than a pixel, but appear large because they are overexposed.

“That images of our planet have been acquired on a single day from two distant solar system outposts reminds us of this nation’s stunning technical accomplishments in planetary exploration,” MESSENGER lead scientist Sean Solomon, with Columbia University in New York, said in a statement.

“The whole event underscores for me our ‘coming of age’ as planetary explorers,” added astronomer Carolyn Porco, who oversees the Cassini imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Usually, spacecraft in the far reaches of the solar system don’t look back toward Earth to avoid damaging their instruments by direct sunlight. Last week, the sun was temporarily blocked relative to Cassini’s line of sight, allowing the U.S. space agency to take the picture.

Latest Headlines

in Sports

Wimbledon announces 7 percent increase in prize money

Fresh
wimbledon

The prize fund will be the highest ever in professional tennis.

in Sports

UFC champ Jones booked in connection with hit-and-run crash

Fresh
jonjones

Witnesses say the star fighter ran from a wreck that hospitalized a pregnant woman but quickly came back to grab "a large handful of cash" from the car.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: ‘Aveggies: Age of Bon Bon’

Fresh
19-overlay6

A super villain was prepared to destroy all the healthy foods in the world, until some "Sesame Street" heroes stepped up to save the world's vegetables!

in Viral Videos

WATCH: The ‘perfect’ body

22-overlay6

A blogger and personal trainer takes on the cyber bullies who criticize her appearance, altering herself in response to their comments. But does she like what she sees?

in Music

How PlayStation helped Marilyn Manson fight piracy

marilynmanson

The rocker shunned regular CDs in favor of the discs originally used for first generation video game console in 1994.