In this rare image taken on 19 July, the wide-angle camera on the international Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and Moon in the same frame.
The dark side of Saturn, its bright limb, the main rings, the F ring, and the G and E rings are clearly seen; the limb of Saturn and the F ring are overexposed. The ‘breaks’ in the brightness of Saturn’s limb are due to the shadows of the rings on the globe of Saturn, preventing sunlight from shining through the atmosphere in those regions. The E and G rings have been brightened for better visibility.
Earth, 1.44 billion km away in this image, appears as a blue dot at centre right; the Moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side. The other bright dots nearby are stars.
This is only the third time ever that Earth has been imaged from the outer Solar System. The first image was taken by NASA’s Voyager-1 in 1990 and famously titled “Pale Blue Dot”. In 2006, Cassini imaged Earth in the stunning and unique mosaic of Saturn called “In Saturn's Shadow – The Pale Blue Dot”.
The new images marked the first time that inhabitants of Earth knew in advance that their planet was being imaged. That opportunity allowed people around the world to join together in social events to celebrate the occasion.
This view looks towards the unilluminated side of the rings from about 20º below the ring plane.
Images taken using red, green and blue filters were combined to create this natural colour view. The images were obtained with Cassini’s wide-angle camera on 19 July at a distance of 1.212 million km from Saturn, and 1445.858 million km from Earth. The illuminated areas of both Earth and the Moon are unresolved here. Consequently, the size of each ‘dot’ is the same size that a point of light of comparable brightness would have in the wide-angle camera.
The Cassini–Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and Italy’s ASI space agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, DC. The Cassini orbiter and its two cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations centre is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
On 25 July 2013, an Ariane 5 lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana carrying Europe’s largest telecom satellite Alphasat.
Two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) expand side-by-side from the Sun and out into space in this movie, playing out in front of the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, SOHO, on 1-2 July 2013.
The shaded disc at the centre of the image is a mask in SOHO’s LASCO instrument that blots out direct sunlight to allow study of the faint details in the Sun's corona. The white circle added within the disc shows the size and position of the visible Sun.
ESA's Alphasat telecom satellite - seen here during encapsulation on 15 July - carries a quartet of test technologies on its side: a Q/V frequency band experiment, a space radiation monitor, an advanced startracker and a laser communication terminal. The first and last of these are particularly conspicuous due to their covering of gold-coloured foil.
The northwestern part of Greece is pictured in this image acquired on 28 April by the Landsat-8 satellite. The Ionian Sea dominates the left side of the image, with the Ambracian Gulf near the centre. In the upper-left corner we can see the Paxi islands. Paxos, to the north, boasts beautiful beaches mainly along its eastern coast, with dramatic cliffs and caves dominating the west side. The smaller island to the south, Antipaxos, is also known for its beaches as well as its traditional vineyards.
This image is featured on the Earth from Space video programme.
In this Hubble Space Telescope composite image taken in April 2013, the sun-approaching Comet ISON floats against a seemingly infinite backdrop of numerous galaxies and a handful of foreground stars. The icy visitor, with its long gossamer tail, appears to be swimming like a tadpole through a deep pond of celestial wonders.
In this composite image, background stars and galaxies were separately photographed in red and yellow-green light. Because the comet moved between exposures relative to the background objects, its appearance was blurred. The blurred comet photo was replaced with a single, black-and-white exposure.
The images were taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 on April 30, 2013.
This photo is one of the original images featured on ISONblog, a new online source offering analysis of Comet ISON by Hubble Space Telescope astronomers and staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA.
Week in Images
22-26 July 2013