NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent back pictures of Earth and the moon taken from its vantage point in orbit around Saturn, more than 1.5 billion kilometres away.
It's the first time Cassini has taken a photo in which the Earth and moon can both be seen as distinct objects.
"We can't see individual continents or people in this portrait of Earth, but this pale blue dot is a succinct summary of who we were on July 19," says Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker.
"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."
Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004. This is the second time it has snapped photos of home, but the first to also catch a glimpse of the moon. Compared to Saturn, Earth is incredibly close to the sun, whose bright rays would damage Cassini's sensitive cameras. On this occasion, however, the sun was positioned behind Saturn, blocking most of its light.
The image containing the Earth and moon will be part of a mosaic of close-up photos of Saturn's famous rings.
source: newshub archive