NASA published this remarkable photo captured by its Cassini spacecraft on April 12th, 2017. Shot from 1.4 billion kilometers away, it shows Earth as a bright dot framed by Saturn’s icy rings.
NASA says the photo was made while the rings were backlit. They were blocking the Sun from view while the spacecraft’s cameras snapped the multiple photos that went into the composite image. The above image has been cropped so you can even see the earth’s Moon on the image.
The photo is reminiscent of NASA’s iconic “Pale Blue Dot” image. That shot, made by the Voyager 1 space probe back in February 1990, was captured from a whopping 6 billion kilometers away.
Cassini’s 20-year journey of scientific discovery and cooperation is almost over and it’s currently in its final act, orbiting lower and lower through Saturn’s rings. During this “Grand Finale”, Cassini will make 22 dives between Saturn and its rings. On September 15th it will go out in a tiny blaze of glory in Saturn’s atmosphere. The probe will continue beaming data back right up until that moment, and its last word will arrive on Earth over an hour after it is gone.