Cassini Saturn Photo Today: ‘Wave’ As NASA Spacecraft Snaps Earth’s Portrait From 900M Miles Away [VIDEO]
The Cassini Saturn photo, Earth's first choreographed portrait from space, is slated for Friday, July 19 and Saturday, July 20. Today, the Cassini spacecraft, which has orbited Saturn ever since it left Earth 16 years ago, and the Messenger probe orbiting Mercury will set their lenses towards Earth. NASA mission planners encourage Earthlings to "wave at Saturn" as the Cassini Saturn photo is snapped.
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"What's important about this particular image is that it's the first time that we've known ahead of time that this picture was going to be taken," Mike Simmons, the founder and president of Astronomers Without Borders, told Space.com. "It's an opportunity to bring awareness of our position in space to everyone."
The Earth will look like nothing more than a pale blue dot against a black background and the silhouette of Saturn, giving viewers a new and interesting perspective on our humble place in the universe. According to Business Insider, there have only been two of these kinds of photos of Earth taken in the history of our planet. One was shot in 1996 by spacecraft Voyager; the second was taken in 2006 by Cassini.
Today's Cassini Saturn photo will be taken during a 15-minute period starting at 5:27 p.m. EDT Friday afternoon. After the portrait is snapped, it'll take about six weeks to fully download and assemble the image.
Scientists began looking for a good time to take the Cassini Saturn photo three years ago. CBS News reports the astrologists needed to find a time when the Cassini spacecraft would be out of the glare of direct sunlight. Turns out, July 19, 2013 would work just fine.
The portrait will be shot from 900 million miles away, so it's safe to say the camera won't be close enough to capture your bad hair day or find you skinny-dipping in a neighbor's pool. Just say "cheese," smile, and remember our place in the vast and infinite universe.
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