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View of the Earth from Saturn: Pale Blue Dot reprise

On July 19, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured this inspirational, fragile view of the Earth  – just a faint speck 900 million miles in the distance – cast beneath Saturn’s imposing rings.

Via NASA: “In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame.”

“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,” said NASA’s Linda Spilker, a project scientist for the Cassini mission.

The moon is also present, visible when the image is magnified five times.

Via NASA: "Earth is the blue point of light on the left; the moon is fainter, white, and on the right. Both are seen here through the faint, diffuse E ring of Saturn."
Via NASA: “Earth is the blue point of light on the left; the moon is fainter, white, and on the right. Both are seen here through the faint, diffuse E ring of Saturn.”

NASA says this image is first to display the Earth (left) and moon (right) as two distinct objects from Cassini’s highest-resolution camera.

This pale blue dot sequel comes over 20 years after the original taken in 1990 from the Voyager 1 spacecraft, some 3.7 billion miles from Earth.

“Cassini’s picture reminds us how tiny our home planet is in the vastness of space, and also testifies to the ingenuity of the citizens of this tiny planet to send a robotic spacecraft so far away from home to study Saturn and take a look-back photo of Earth,” NASA’s Spilker said.

Here are some reactions to this latest pale blue dot imagery from some other science bloggers:

“…particularly beautiful and humbling”, Andrew Revkin, New York Times

“I think this truly is a ‘wow’ moment”, Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine

“…nothing short of stunning”, Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer, Slate

Read much more about this imagery at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Web site: NASA Releases Images of Earth Taken by Distant Spacecraft

Related: Saturn hurricane has 1,250 mile-wide eye

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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