INNOVATION

Cassini Preps For Death Plunge Into Saturn And Sends Farewell Image Of Tiny Earth

29/04/2017 12:00 PM AEST | Updated 29/04/2017 3:28 PM AEST
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
A recent image from NASAs Cassini spacecraft shows planet Earth as a point of light between the icy rings of Saturn The spacecraft captured the view on April 12 2017 Cassini was 870 million miles away from Earth when the image was taken Although far too small to be visible in the image the part of Earth facing Cassini at the time was the southern Atlantic Ocean
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
An April 12 image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows Earth as a point of light between the icy rings of Saturn. Cassini was 870 million miles from Earth when the image was taken. 

As NASA’s amazing Cassini spacecraft takes on technological death-defying feats months before it goes into a final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere, it continues to transmit images back to Earth of things never seen before so close to a giant planet.

This week, Cassini flew through the relatively short 1,500-mile gap that separates Saturn’s enormously intricate ring system from the top of the planet’s atmosphere, transmitting precious data back to Earthbound scientists.

Cassini also this month beamed home ― through Saturn’s icy rings ― a unique image of Earth, 870 million miles away, as seen above.

That very tiny dot in space represents everything we are, our continents and oceans ― everything about where we are in the cosmos.

And if you need to strain your eyes to see both Earth and our moon, here’s a zoomed-in version of us with the moon to our left: 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
In this zoomed-in image of the previous picture, the moon can be seen to the left of Earth.

It offers an interesting perspective on our place in our little neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy.

And while this is the most recent photograph of Earth from very far away, it’s not the first and not necessarily the most dramatic.

We’ve gathered some incredible images here to show how, from someone else’s perspective ― if they happen to live on a world that isn’t part of our solar system and if their technology discovered us in the cosmos ― they could easily refer to Earth as, well, an exoplanet.

From the following pictures, it’s not easy to tell how many billions of people live here, or to be able to make out any actual signs of technology. We are just one dot, among billions and billions (probably trillions) of other dots.

Maybe someone out there is looking in our direction and wondering if there’s any life on this exoplanet dot known locally as Earth. 

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