Four years ago, NASA’s revolutionary Cassini Spacecraft which was on a mission to explore Saturn and its atmosphere, viewed Earth from 900 million miles away. The probe then decided to take some pictures of our planet by ducking behind the ring planet. As there was no sunlight falling on it, so it took some spectacular pictures of Earth from Saturn through its delicate lenses. It was on July 19, 2013, that Cassini was able to capture the entire Earth in its cameras and the mind-blowing Saturn’s view of Earth made everyone’s day.
Cassini is going to complete its 20 years long Saturn Mission on September 15, and after that, it will undergo self-destruction inside Saturn‘s atmosphere. The extended Mission of Cassini has been a huge success for scientists and researchers as it successfully landed the Huygens Probe on Titan (Saturn’s Moon) and also sensed hydrogen in Enceladus’s icy plumes. Cassini took around half a million detailed pictures of the Saturn and its rings as well as the superstorms.
But among all these photos, the day when Cassini captured the smiling picture of Earth, left everybody awe-stricken and the picture had an emotional heft in it. Astronomer Carolyn Porco, the leader of Cassini imaging team who carried on the July 2103 photo-shoot, decided to name the view of Earth from Saturn after the exciting residents of Earth.
Porco and her colleagues arranged a camp and smiled into the void and it was exciting because it was only for the third time that Earth was being photographed from such a long distance and it was for the first time that the inhabitants of earth were aware that they were being photographed beyond asteroid belts from outer solar system. Everybody was excited to be a part of this unique cosmic photo shoot event. Matthew Hedman, a physicist at the University of Idaho, told that their team was both excited and nervous at the same time because they could not be assured about the proper capturing of the image from such long distance. But when the images came, it became an emotional affair.
The Earth smiled from Saturn and Cassini was able to take a detailed and beautiful picture of our Smiling Earth, and you can see the sunlight scattering through the Saturn’s E ring. The brighter F and G rings were well contrasted through the darkness of Saturn’s night. The pictures taken on that day was the best among all and defined the beauty of Earth beneath the massive rings of Saturn. These images will define the great work of Cassini on the ring planet.