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 Election 2014, Local

November Ballot: Many More Referendums And Constitutional Amendments

ballot

Voters will be answering many more referendums and constitutional amendments on their ballot this November.

in Local

Illinois Hospital Association: “Vigilantly Preparing” For Ebola

Health

The President of the Illinois Hospital Association says they're working closely with Public Health to prepare for Ebola.

in Election 2014, Local

Chicago Sun-Times endorses Bruce Rauner

Chicago Sun Times

The Chicago Sun-Times has endorsed Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Bruce Rauner over Incumbent Pat Quinn.

in Local

Secretary Of State: Graduated Driver’s License Drops Teen Driving Deaths

jesse_white

Secretary of State Jesse White says implementation of the "Graduated Driver's License" has reduced teen deaths.

in Local

Bill Clinton Expected to Stump in Illinois Next Week

Clinton Quinn

Quinn says event will be in Chicago.