(c) NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE

(c) NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE

That faint blue dot at the center of this beautiful composition is none other than our very own blue marble – planet Earth. The opaque giant surrounded by the countless colored rings in the foreground is, as most of you have already guessed, Saturn.

Step back, take a moment to reflect over this picture and consider this was taken 560 million miles away by a space probe, named Cassini, designed, built and launched here on Earth. Yeah, WOOOOOW!

To catch this beautiful still, Cassini had to wait a while. As you can see from the photo, Saturn was in the dark and the sun was just about rising. These weren’t some lighting conditions that astronomers were hoping to catch for a nice picture, they’re they only kind of conditions you can see the Earth in from Saturn, and this does not happen very often. To get an idea, this is the first time Cassini, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, has taken a snapshot of our pale blue planet. This is because during much of the rest of the time, like is the case of observing Mercury from Earth, there is too much like coming in from the sun. You need to shoot right before or after the sun rises or sets.  A very rare occasion indeed, and today we’re ready to celebrate!

 

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