By BBC News, on 12th November 2013.
The US space agency (Nasa) has released a spectacular new picture of the Planet Saturn, acquired by the Cassini spacecraft in July. The image was produced as part of The Day The Earth Smiled Project, which was led by Dr Carolyn Porco. She describes how and why the picture was put together.
Four months ago, our cameras on Cassini were commanded to execute a routine imaging sequence during an event that was anything but routine.
On 19 July, an array of overlapping images framing Saturn, its entire ring system and a host of its moons was acquired while Cassini was deep in the shadow created by the planet’s eclipse of the Sun.
This arrangement of Sun, Saturn, and machine made for a rare opportunity to image from the outer Solar System the planets in close to the Sun.
The intent: To catch a precious glimpse of our own planet – tiny, remote, alone – as it would be seen from a billion miles away.