Cassini Snaps Earth as It Readies Grand Finale
Earth from Saturn

Seeing Earth from millions of miles away never ceases to amaze me. From millions of miles away we’re just a blue speck with a little white speck right next to it. Before NASA’s Cassini spacecraft begins its doomed trek between Saturn’s upper atmosphere and rings, it took one more glance at where it came from.

Cassini sees Earth

There we are. Sitting below Saturn’s A ring and above the brighter than usual F ring. 870 million miles away from a small, but intricate chunk of metal we made. If Cassini was armed with a powerful enough telescope, we would see the southern Atlantic Ocean facing Saturn.

You can just barely see the moon sitting to the left of Earth.

Earth from Saturn zoomed

It’s an extraordinary image, but I still like the Earth image from 2013 better.

another look at Earth from Saturn

This image was captured nearly 900 million miles away from Earth and was just the third image of our Pale Blue Dot taken from the outer solar system.

The original Pale Blue Dot image was captured 27 years ago. On February 14, 1990, Voyager 1 did a 180 and captured a series of images to create the first ever ‘portrait’ of our solar system.

pale blue dot

Nearly 40 years later and the Voyager 1 is still talking with Earth. NASA expects the hardy spacecraft to keep talking until 2025. Then, the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) will no longer be able to power any of the instruments.

Voyager 1 is talking to us right now. The Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex (part of NASA’s Deep Space Network) is receiving 160 b/sec of data from the spacecraft. Check out the Deep Space Network Now page to see which antennas are talking to which spacecraft.

Image credits: NASA

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