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Cassini spacecraft takes spectacular pictures of Saturn (oh, and Earth)
'Of all the millions of images taken of the worlds in our solar system since the beginning of the space age, those that reach deeper into the human heart than any other, are those of our own home, as it might be seen in the skies of other worlds: small, alone in the blackness of never-ending space and awash in the blue of its blue, blue oceans.'
Those are the words of Carolyn Porco, the Cassini Imaging Team Leader.
Last Friday, while orbiting Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft turned its camera lens on earth from almost a billion miles away. NASA has released the images, which show Saturn and its rings, and also the Earth in the (very far) distance. The original 'raw' images taken by the spacecraft are grayscale, but astronomy enthusiast Valerie Klavans has converted some of them and added color.
|That tiny dot in the distance is our home planet of Earth. [Photo credit: NASA/JPL. Retouched versions by Valerie Klavans]|
|Here, Earth can be found to the upper-left of Saturn's rings.[Photo credit: NASA/JPL. Retouched versions by Valerie Klavans]|
|A very distant view of Earth and the Moon. [Photo credit: NASA/JPL. Retouched versions by Valerie Klavans]|
Friday was the first time in nine years that Cassini has photographed Earth from its orbit around Saturn. In preparation for the interplanetary self-portrait, NASA promoted 'The Day That the Earth Smiled' on social media with the instruction: 'at the appointed time, straighten up, brush your hair, go outside, gather with friends and family, think a thought or two about the starkness of our whereabouts, the beauty of our home planet, the marvel of our existence and the magnificence of our accomplishments. And then ... look up and smile'.
We hope you did!