NASA probe Cassini to photograph Earth from 1.5 bn kms away on 19 July

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 16:36

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Well, it will be a photo session week for our dear Earth. A camera aboard the Cassini spacecraft, currently about 1.5 billion kilometers away in the orbit of Saturn, will turn towards Earth and snap photos for about 15 minutes on 19th July.

This is not something new and in the past many distant spacecraft have taken photographs of the Earth. But it is the first time that residents of Earth will know when a spacecraft will be snapping it from afar. It`s a prearranged photo session, which the Cassini team from Nasa has fixed up, taking advantage of the fact that Cassini will be on the far side of Saturn and so, protected from the Sun`s glare. The photographs will have Saturn, with all its rings in the foreground, with the Earth visible in the background.

This event is scheduled to begin at 4:27 p.m. on July 19 and will end after 15 minutes. The photo will take 15 minutes because Saturn is so large that many photos will be taken and stitched together into the final image. Earth will be visible just as a tiny blue dot occupying just a few pixels of space in the images, but it will be a natural color photograph.
This will be the first real color photo taken from Saturn and the first time the public will have advance notice of such a photo opportunity. After it has been beamed back to Earth and processed the photo will be posted on NASA’s website.

"It will be a day to revel in the extraordinary achievements in the exploration of our solar system that have made such an interplanetary photo session possible. And it will be a day for all of us to smile and celebrate life on the Pale Blue Dot," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader who initiated this idea.

The day is being celebrated as `The Day the Earth Smiled`. Astronomers Without Borders, a worldwide organization of scientists for popularizing astronomy, is coordinating gatherings and parties so that people can look at Saturn in the night sky and wave at it.

First Published: Sunday, July 14, 2013 - 10:39

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