NASA released a panoramic image of the solar system from the dark side of Saturn on Tuesday, the result of 141 separate photos taken over four hours by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in July. The organization then meticulously pieced together those images to produce a spectacular look at the backlit planet and its rings. There's also a tiny, bright speck among Saturn's outer rings in the image. That speck is Earth. It's just the third time our home planet has been photographed from the outer solar system.
The natural-color image of Saturn also includes a visible Venus and Mars, in the upper left-hand corner. They're more faint than the Earth in the photo, because the two planets were on the far side of the Sun on picture day. The entire shot spans 405,000 miles across. Also visible are several of Saturn's moons, including Enceladus, Tethys, Mimas, Prometheus, Pandora, Janus and Epimetheus. To see a larger version, click here. NASA has also provided a fully-annotated version of the image.
Scientists had to take the image as Saturn eclipsed the sun in order to preserve the delicate equipment aboard the spacecraft. The opportunity for the shoot came on July 19 of this year, meaning that Earthlings had advance warning to smile at Saturn for the photo.
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