Zee Media Bureau
Los Angeles: Ordinary Earthlings and scientists across North America waved at Saturn, the ringed planet, on Friday as part of an interplanetary photo op.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn moved into position Friday to take pictures of Earth from 898 million miles away (nearly 1.5 billion kilometers).
The waving time started at 2:27 p.m. and ended at 2:42 p.m. PDT.
Incidentally, Messenger spacecraft also took pitures of Earth on Friday and will again focus its lens towards Earth on Saturday.
At the time of Friday`s Cassini photo shoot, North America was in sunlight. Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia will be illuminated in portraits by Messenger.
"There have been only two images of Earth from the outer solar system in all the time humankind has been venturing out into space," NASA said in a statement.
"The first and most distant one was taken 23 years ago by NASA`s Voyager 1 spacecraft from 6 billion kilometres away, showing Earth as a pale blue dot. The other opportunity was Cassini`s image in 2006 from 1.49 billion kilometres."
Scientists say the snapshots of Earth are part of a bigger effort to study Saturn`s shimmering rings and search for moons around Mercury.
It`ll take days to weeks to process the images.
NASA has invited the public to share photos from the event. Visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/waveatsaturn for more information.
(With Agency inputs)