Look Up and Smile! Cassini Photographs Earth Today

Look Up and Smile! Cassini Photographs Earth Today

At 5:27 pm Eastern Daylight Time (21:27 GMT), NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will begin taking a photograph of Earth from its vantage point at Saturn. The photo shoot will last about 15 minutes.

True, the entire planet will appear as just a “pale blue dot” in the resulting image, but NASA is hoping that the people of Earth will play along by giving Cassini a wave and a smile to “help acknowledge the historic interplanetary portrait as it is being taken.”  There’s even a cute YouTube video featuring the voice of Morgan Freeman to encourage everyone to participate.

This is not the first portrait of Earth from the distant reaches of the solar system.   The iconic “Pale Blue Dot” image was taken by a different spacecraft, Voyager 1, in 1990 when it was 4 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) away.  Cassinl took Earth portraits in in 2006 and 2012, but this is the first to capture the Saturn system with Earth in natural color and the first taken with Cassini’s highest resolution camera. 

Cassini will be 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away, so Earth will be only about one pixel in size in the image. Though your friends won’t be able to pick you out, would a wave and a smile looking skywards on a Friday afternoon be such a bad idea anyway?  But, of course, don’t do it while driving, operating heavy machinery or performing any other task that requires your full attention.

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