In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the camera onboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings, Earth and its moon in the same picture. The image that’s shown here is only one part of 33 other images the Cassini probe has taken. In this image the Earth is 898 million miles away. The arrow on the image indicates the position of Earth. The other bright dots nearby are stars.
This picture is only the third ever time we’ve been photographed from the outer solar system. It was the first time we knew we were being photographed too. It allowed people from across the world to join together in social events to celebrate this occasion, all with the help of social media. The view you can see in the picture looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 20 degrees below the ring plane.
The image was taken from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, the craft was 753,000 miles away from Saturn. In astronomical terms this is actually comparatively close.
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.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute