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You are here: Cassini's 'Saturn Wave' pics show Earth and moon as bright dots in space

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Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Day the Earth Smiled: Sneak Preview - In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn's rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame.

NASA has picked up its photos from the great Walgreens in the sky.

On Monday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory released a handful of Earth images shot July 19 from the Cassini spacecraft, currently in orbit around Saturn:

Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two NASA interplanetary spacecraft on July 19 show our planet and its moon as bright beacons from millions of miles away in space. 

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured the color images of Earth and the moon from its perch in the Saturn system nearly 900 million miles away. Messenger, the first probe to orbit Mercury, took a black-and-white image from a distance of 61 million miles as part of a campaign to search for natural satellites of the planet. 

The space agency launched a public participation campaign called the "Saturn Wave" that had people cheesing skyward last week during the interplanetary portrait session. NASA reports more than 20,000 people around the world participated.

RELATED: Los Angeles photobombs Cassini's glamour shots of Earth

The occasion was a "first" for a number of reasons:

  1. It was the first time Cassini's highest-resolution camera captured Earth and its moon as two distinct objects. 
  2. It was the first time people on Earth had advance notice their planet's portrait was being taken from interplanetary distances. 

In the news release Linda Spilker, a Cassini project scientist at NASA/JPL in Pasadena, calls the portrait "a succinct summary of who we were on July 19," adding:

"Cassini's picture reminds us how tiny our home planet is in the vastness of space, and also testifies to the ingenuity of the citizens of this tiny planet to send a robotic spacecraft so far away from home to study Saturn and take a look-back photo of Earth." 

Continents and people are not visible in the portrait. We are the "pale blue dot," says JPL (which kind of makes you want to watch this little gem again).

And Waldo wept, for he would never be found.

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