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 Entertainment

Channing Tatum going behind the camera to direct

tatum

The "Magic Mike" star is taking on an adaptation of young-adult novel "Forgive Me."

in Music

Justin Bieber recording with Michael Jackson’s son

princemichaeljackson

The "Baby" hitmaker is reportedly recording in secret with the King of Pop's son, Prince.

in Entertainment

Natalie Dormer wants more nudity in ‘Game of Thrones’

nataliedormer

The "Game of Thrones" star wants more male nudity in the raunchy medieval-fantasy series.

in Entertainment

‘Hunger Games’ tops box office, sets new record

In this image released by Lionsgate, Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen, right, and Liam Hemsworth portrays Gale Hawthorne in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1."

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1" tallied $123 million in ticket sales to score the year's biggest U.S. opening.

in Music, Sports

Katy Perry to headline Super Bowl halftime show

katyperry

The "Roar" hitmaker oins the likes of Madonna, Beyoncé and Prince to perform at the NFL's Super Bowl halftime show.