Friday, July 19, 2013

Wave at Saturn

Wave at Saturn Details:

In just a few hours we all have the chance to get our picture taken by one of the most amazing cameras, so comb your hair and smile big for Cassini! This evening, from 5:27-5:42pm Eastern Time you have the opportunity to be in the picture as Cassini will be taking an image of the Earth from behind Saturn.

From a distance of nearly 10 AU (or about 1.44 billion kilometers) the Earth will be about 1.5 pixels in size on Cassini’s megapixel camera. The view will be similar to this:

Image and more details at:
Those of us located in North America will be facing Saturn (and therefore the Cassini spacecraft) at this time. If you’re not located in North/South America fear not, you still can get photographed. Thanks to the MESSENGER spacecraft, which is currently in orbit around Mercury, there will be pictures taken tomorrow morning that will cover the other side of the Earth!

While having a few photons from the entire planet land on a pixel at Cassini may not be the glamour shot you were hoping for, I still encourage you to take a moment to enjoy the opportunity. So rarely do we have a chance to be a part of something so much larger than our standard day-to-day activities. Think about it:

* There’s a spacecraft named Cassini 929 million miles away from the Earth.
* It launched in 1997 and took until 2004 to reach Saturn.
* It’s been orbiting Saturn and taking pictures and various types of measurements ever since and transmitting that information back to Earth on radio waves.
* From that distance everything and everyone on the Earth resides in basically a single pixel.

It’s really pretty fantastic. The first photos of the Earth from the Moon inspired generations of young scientists, engineers, artists, writers, dreamers… it put our world in perspective. It gave context to this amazing world we call home; demonstrating how beautiful, and how small, and how delicate it truly is against the vastness of space. We have had very few opportunities to see the Earth in such a unique way. In 1990 the Voyager 1 turned back toward the Earth at the request of Carl Sagan to take a last look at the Earth from 6 billion kilometers away as it sped (and continues to speed!) to the outer reaches of our solar system.

If you have a minute to Wave at Saturn, I encourage you to maybe take just another 3 minutes to watch this inspiring video, which won the NASA Earth Day Video Contest in 2011. 

‘One Earth’ by Fiona Conn

If you can't view it here, check out this link:

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