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.

Recent Headlines

in Sports

NFL upholds Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension

tombrady

The New England QB's punishment for his role in using under-inflated footballs during the AFC championship game last season was upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

in Entertainment

Tom Cruise takes on Jimmy Fallon in latest lip-sync battle

17-overlay12

The Weeknd, the Righteous Brothers, and Meat Loaf are among the artists to get reinterpreted in this battle between "The Tonight Show" host and the "Mission Impossible" star.

in Sports

Arizona Cardinals hire the NFL’s first female coach

14-overlay18

The Arizona Cardinals are being hailed as groundbreakers after hiring Dr. Jen Welter to be a coaching intern during training camp this year, working with inside linebackers.

in Sports, Viral Videos

WATCH: Ohio State football players ‘dummy’ prank

24-overlay17

This Nike uniform "mannequin" did a better job bringing quarterback Cardale Jones to the ground than any Oregon player.

in Entertainment

‘Empire’ co-stars reportedly engaged

gracegealey

Trai Byers and Grace Gealey are reportedly engaged to be married just months after reports of their off-screen romance surfaced.