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article imageNASA releases Earth photo taken from Saturn's orbit

By Eduardo Arrufat     Jul 23, 2013 in Science
London - The Blue Marble becomes a tiny dot in the immensity of the vast space when seen from Saturn's orbit at a distance of 1,440 kilometers.
December 7th, 1972 - The crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft takes a photograph that will forever change humanity's perception of Earth's isolation amid the empty expansion of space. The term Blue Marble is given to that crystal glass sphere that floated in the darkest background ever seen by humans.
View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon.  This is the first time t...
View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. This is the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap.
Image courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center
Probably, nobody has gotten through school without seeing the infamous picture depicting Earth at its fullest for the first time. However, NASA has just released the first photograph taken by Cassini probe while in orbit around Saturn. The landscape shown below includes Earth as a tiny light blue dot graciously pointed by NASA engineers with a white arrow. In the corner, Saturn is shot as a massive celestial body escorted by a set of orbiting rings. It is thanks to Saturn's location between Cassini and the Sun that this photo is possible. The lenses onboard the space probe act like the human eye, and cannot distinguish objects so far away when there is so much light from the Sun shining over them. The location of Cassini with respect to the other three celestial bodies makes it for a perfect shot of our home planet
In this rare image taken on July 19  2013  the wide-angle camera on NASA s Cassini spacecraft has ca...
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/JPL-Caltech
Cassini-Huygens was the spaceship that blasted off from Cape Canaveral in 1997 and whose objective was to arrive to Saturn and study the planet and its principal satellites. The complexity of the trajectory included two swing-bys via Venus before a last impulse from Earth's gravitational field that placed it on route to Saturn and Jupiter. The cost of the mission design, built and operations has gone over three billion dollars split between NASA (80% of the total cost), ESA (15%) and the Italian Space Agency (5%) but it has been spread over 19 years, making the annual costs of the mission below 170 million dollars - a budget which comes shy when compared to certain football teams from the main leagues.
More about NASA, Space, Earth, Saturn, Cassini
 
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