What's the Latest Development?
On July 19, Earth's residents will get to see what their home looks like from Saturn: specifically, from the perspective of NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which will take pictures of the neighborhood where it's been living for the last nine years. Cassini's camera will snap the shots during a total solar eclipse, something it's done twice before. However, this time it will be positioned to capture the Earth in its best light, without obstruction from Saturn's rings. The pictures will be taken between 21:27 and 21:42 UTC (5:27 and 5:42 pm Eastern time).
What's the Big Idea?
Unlike previous distant images of Earth -- such as the "Pale Blue Dot" image taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 from just past Neptune -- which occurred by happenstance, this will be the first picture-taking session prepared for in advance. Even though the Earth and moon will be about a pixel in size, Cassini's imaging team leader Carolyn Porco is excited: "My sincere wish is that people the world over stop what they're doing at the time the Earth picture is taken to revel in the sheer wonder of simply being alive on a pale blue dot of a planet...Let's celebrate that, and make this one day a day the whole Earth smiles in unison."